How to make the most of your telehealth visit

Businesswoman having telehealth visit with doctor on a mobile phone

Online healthcare appointments surged during the pandemic. And today the numbers remain above pre-pandemic levels, especially for behavioral health.

“Telehealth allows fast and convenient access to board-certified, licensed physicians to take care of your simpler medical concerns, such as sore throats and skin conditions,” says Dr. Ian Bushell, a family medicine physician and medical director with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “There are some limits to what can be treated remotely, but for many conditions, telehealth is a great option.”

Why is telehealth still popular?

Dr. Bushell: We’re finding that patients continue to opt for telehealth because it offers benefits that are important to them:

  1. Telehealth eliminates the need travel to a doctor’s office and then possibly sit in a waiting room. You don’t need to take time off work or find someone to watch your children for your appointment. It saves time.
  2. You’re not limited by your location or that of the provider. If you live a long distance from a provider, it can be difficult to arrange an appointment that works for your schedule.
  3. Your appointment takes place in your home or wherever you choose to be when you log in. There is no waiting in a crowded waiting room worrying about if others are wondering why you’re there. This might be especially important to people having a session for their mental health.
  4. Lack of exposure. You won’t risk getting sick or getting others sick from an office visit.
  5. Quicker access. You may be able even an appointment faster.

In some cases, people will schedule a phone call with their provider. However, a video chat gives you and your provider a chance to see eye to eye. That connection helps you build trust between each other, which is an important component of the patient-provider relationship.

How to make the most of your telehealth visits

Dr. Bushell: Give yourself the best chance for a positive experience by preparing in advance. To some degree, you can prepare for a remote visit in the way that you’d prepare for an in-person visit. Before either type of appointment, you should:

  1. Make a list of your questions or concerns to bring up with your provider during your appointment.
  2. Review your symptoms, when they began, how long you’ve experienced them, and if you’ve noticed any changes.
  3. Make a list of all medications you’re currently taking, including the dosage amounts.
  4. Block off time on your calendar so you won’t be interrupted during the appointment.
  5. Choose a place to have your visit that is private and quiet.
  6. When it’s time for your appointment, try to log in a few minutes early, in case you hit any technological snags.

Telehealth offers real benefits

Dr. Bushell: Research shows that telehealth has expanded access to care, especially for those in rural areas who live a long way from providers’ offices. The vast majority of telehealth patients say they’re satisfied with the care they received remotely.

“If you haven’t tried telehealth yet, please do,” says Dr. Bushell. “The benefits make it a great choice for many health conditions.”

Most BlueCross members have access to telehealth services and can learn more about this care and how to make appointments here.

Access the BlueCross mobile apps

Here are some telehealth visit tips specific to BlueCross members with access to this care:

  1. Download Teladoc Health, which BCBST uses for telehealth appointments, to your computer or device.
  2. Make sure you’ve registered in the system so you’ll be ready to go when it’s time for your appointment.
  3. Ask for help if you’re having trouble navigating the software.

More from Dr. Bushell on WellTuned.

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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