Making the most out of virtual consultations as a patient
With pressures on the Canadian medical system making it increasingly challenging to access healthcare1, many healthcare professionals have been addressing accessibility by offering appointments over video call. Employers are answering the call too, responding to a parallel crisis of mental health in the workplace by incorporating virtual care services like TELUS Health Virtual Care into their employee benefits packages.
Convenient for patients, virtual consultations can be just as effective as in-person appointments for a variety of health concerns. Through Virtual Care, they’re available on-demand to employees and their families at any time.
Of course, if you’re new to virtual consultations, it can take some time to get comfortable with them. As with most things, preparation is key. Here are a few tips to help your virtual consultations go smoothly.
Before the consultation.
1. Prepare your equipment.
You will need:
- a webcam-enabled computer, smartphone or tablet with good quality speakers, a microphone, and a web browser; you may want a stand if you’re using a mobile device
- a good quality headset — optional, but useful for eliminating ambient noise
- a strong internet connection
- a notebook or word processor for taking notes
- a private space
Make sure your volume is on, and your microphone, camera, and speakers are in good working order. Check that you’re connected to the internet. If you’re using a mobile device, make sure the battery is fully charged or the device is plugged in to prevent a sudden loss of power. With Virtual Care, you can request an on-demand consultation and attend it right from the app.
2. Minimize distractions as much as possible.
Close unnecessary programs, apps, and alerts. Silence incoming calls on your mobile device. If you’re using your mobile device for the consultation, check the settings to make sure you’ll receive notifications related to your appointment.
3. Prioritize privacy.
Choose a quiet space where you can be alone. If there’s a possibility that someone could enter the space, let them know in advance that you require privacy. Do whatever you need to feel secure in your chosen location, whether that’s locking the door, putting up a “do not disturb” sign, or playing background music.
4. Get comfortable.
Find a seating position that allows you to relax so you can focus on the call. If you feel self-conscious about appearing on video, you can adjust the camera to show an angle and background you feel comfortable with. Set up your note-taking materials.
During the consultation.
Talk to the clinician the way you would during an in-person appointment. Let them know if you need them to repeat anything or if there are any problems with the call.
If you have audio problems or difficulty hearing and have trouble understanding what you’re discussing, you can use the live chat feature to get clarification.
Setting yourself up for a successful virtual consultation.
For some patients, virtual consultations can be intimidating. You may find it helpful to jot down some notes about what you want to talk about beforehand, so you can make sure the healthcare practitioner addresses them. However, you should know that when you are using Virtual Care, your clinician will have access to notes from your previous consultations that will give them context on your health background.
As healthcare evolves, virtual consultations are here to stay. Once you find your stride, technology like Virtual Care can help you get the care you seek more quickly and from the comfort of your own space.
1. Canadian Medical Association. (2022, August 10). Canada’s health care crisis: What we need now. Retrieve October 19, 2022 from https://www.cma.ca/news/canadas-health-care-crisis-what-we-need-now
This blog was originally published May 15, 2020 and has since been updated.