By Betsy Lucas, DocReady Patient Engagement Director

Telemedicine is not a new tool. In fact, telemedicine made its debut in the late 1950s. Continued advances in telemedicine in recent years have continued to make healthcare more accessible and cost-effective for patients experiencing difficulty accessing a physician. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of increased medical anxiety, telemedicine is increasingly becoming a routine means for accessing healthcare for many Americans. At DocReady we are proud to offer a service to safely provide necessary urgent, primary, and specialty care to our community.

If you, like many other patients, have questions about symptoms that might signal COVID-19 make an appointment to see one of our physicians to discuss in more detail. Our physicians are also available to consult via video visit for other issues; whether the pain in your knee after a fall signals a broken bone that requires treatment, whether your child with a fever needs antibiotics, or whether one of your family member’s chronic fatigue is a sign of a serious illness.

Here are some tips to help you know when to schedule an appointment and how to get the most out of your DocReady visit:

Emergencies are still emergencies.

Many of the pre-pandemic rules still apply – sudden chest pain, weakness in one side of the face or body, or sudden difficulty breathing are all red-alert symptoms. Call 911 pronto in these cases.

Urgent, but not an emergency.

If, in pre-pandemic times, these symptoms would have led you to go to the urgent care for treatment, schedule an appointment with the next available DocReady Urgent Care doctor. Common concerns in this category include high fevers, a new source of pain, or a minor injury.

Provide detail at the time of booking and complete your intake forms.

To get the most out of your Docready visit, try to summarize what’s going on in one or two sentences in the notes section of the online booking form. Start with your most urgent symptom first; note how long it has been going on and what has changed. In addition, you will receive an email from your doctor inviting you to onpatient and to complete your pre-appointment intake questionnaire. By completing your intake form your doctor will be better prepared for your visit and can, therefore, focus 100% of your visit time on your healthcare needs.

Sign up for the onpatient portal.

Not to beat a dead horse, but another reason to register for the online patient portal is that it will be connected to your medical record, where you can see your visit notes, medications, access educational materials about your condition and treatment, and securely communicate with your doctor post-appointment. You can also use the portal to access any forms you need, for example, a note needed for work or your receipt for insurer reimbursement.

Prepare for the conversation.

Make a list. I always write down a list of two or three issues I want to address before appointments with medical professionals so I don’t forget anything important. This is especially vital when the visit is via video where patients less familiar with telemedicine are more likely to lose their train of thought.

Keep track of when your symptoms started and if they've changed.

A symptom diary may reveal clues to what’s causing your condition. Keep a brief record of when symptoms occur, what seems to trigger or aggravate them, and what alleviates them.

Call from a quiet place.

Try to find a quiet place with good cellphone reception or wifi. Give the video link try before the appointment, so you can troubleshoot any challenges.