Make the Most of Your Telehealth Visit

March 31, 2021   Preventative Care, Technology

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The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped healthcare in many ways, one of which is the use of telehealth.

We’re finding that many visits with healthcare providers can be productive virtually, however there are certain visits that are best suited in person. An appointment with your healthcare provider, either face-to-face or virtual, should be productive and informative. Here are ways to make the most out of your virtual visit since telehealth is likely here to stay.

For the day of...

  • Make sure your device is charged.
  • Log into your appointment platform a little early and make sure your speakers and microphone are working correctly.
  • Have your list of medications and supplements readily available.
  • Find a quiet place without distractions to conduct your visit. This means making arrangements for your children or other dependents, if possible.
  • Write down a list of questions for your provider to ensure you don’t end your session with lingering thoughts that may require a follow-up visit.

Topics suited for telehealth...

From an OB/GYN standpoint, there are a variety of topics that can be adequately covered with a virtual visit.

  • Exploratory conversations — Discussions around medications or birth control options, for example, are well suited for virtual sessions because they don’t require a physical exam.
  • Some post-partum check-ups — Although post-operative appointments need to be in person since they require incision checks, some obstetric and gynecological problem visits can be done virtually. For example, two-week post-partum check-ups following vaginal delivery can be conducted via telehealth, if desired.
  • Test results and sensitive discussions — Talking through sensitive matters such as the results of one’s STD test, biopsy, or PAP test can be conducted via telehealth. If a patient is suffering from postpartum depression, for instance, it not only eases the burden of travel for a new mother, but also allows providers to monitor her progress from anywhere.
  • Ongoing care — If a patient has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, for example, she likely has daily blood sugar self-checks, physical activity requirements, and certain meal plans to manage the condition. Providers can monitor the progression of a patient’s condition and the effectiveness of her individualized treatment plan virtually when appropriate.
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Some frequently asked questions...

  • Can all appointments be conducted via telehealth? When a physical exam is required or other tests are warranted, an in-person visit is essential.
  • Can obstetric appointments be successful virtually? If you have a low-risk pregnancy, meaning there is no need for medical intervention and both the baby and mother are healthy, some appointments (those that don’t require an ultrasound or other exam), can be virtual. Discussing your birth plan with your provider (which includes an initial intake conversation), asking questions about certain foods or products that you’ve been using, or asking for a gut check on something are great candidates for telehealth. Other obstetric visits may be performed virtually but would be determined on an individual basis based on the type of evaluation needed.
  • Can telehealth be used for family planning? In some ways, yes. Telemedicine can be used for ongoing counseling, establishing lifestyle parameters, and reviewing lab results.
  • Is telehealth HIPAA compliant? Yes—the platform Garrison Women’s Health uses, for example, is HIPAA compliant and secure. It’s customary for providers to ask patients to sign a consent for telehealth prior to their appointment. The signed consent form is needed to partake in a virtual visit. When a physical exam is required or other tests are warranted, an in-person visit is essential.
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Elizabeth Chase, MD

With telehealth, it is all about women sharing the story of their current medical issues.  Although face-to-face visits are absolutely essential when a physical exam is required, I enjoy the complete focus on “herstory” with telehealth visits.

— Elizabeth Chase, MD, FPMRS

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