By Dr. Nichole Barker
It’s been about 2 months since we, at SRM, have had to pivot and go virtual with all of our consultations due to the coronavirus. This has helped tremendously at decreasing foot traffic in the clinic, so we can adhere to social distancing and decreasing risk to our patients and staff. While we have found telemedicine to be quite effective and efficient, we sure do miss seeing you all in person, and of course, hugs.
We have learned a lot in this time period and wanted to provide you with tips and a Q&A on preparing and optimizing your first virtual consult.
- Be early, 10-15 min logged into the telemedicine platform
- Test the platform with video and audio if possible in advance
- Ask ahead of time what the plan is for troubleshooting poor connection/audio
- Make sure you have a good internet connection
- Get specific instruction on follow up plan: who, what, where, when, how?
- Dress appropriately, as we can see you from the waist up with video. Pajama pants are totally acceptable with telemedicine J
- What things should I have with me the day of the consult?
It’s helpful to have a list of your questions, labs, previous treatment records, and pen/paper. *It is essential for your provider to have obtained your new patient paperwork prior to your visit. Please have this done and sent preferably a minimum 24 hours from your scheduled appointment.
*Complete the new patient intake forms. Yes, these can seem long and tedious, but this exercise challenges one to know medical info and if any testing has already been done. If you have a partner, be prepared to fill out their information too. Obtain copies of previous testing or have access to your online medical info.
- Who should be with me the day of the consult?
If you have a partner, it’s best if they can participate, but not required.
- I have concerns with telemedicine regarding my privacy, should I be concerned?
We utilize a HIPAA compliant zoom medical program that allows the doctor to “admit” or “allow” a patient in after confirmation. If a participant is unrecognized, they would not be admitted into the zoom call.
- How long will my consult last?
Typically, the average new patient consult will take 30-60 minutes and a follow up is 15-30 minutes.
- Will there be time for me to ask questions, I have a lot?
Yes. For sure. Try to write down all your questions ahead of time so we are sure to answer as many as we can.
- I’ve kept track of my cycles and have my records uploaded on my computer, can I share my screen with the provider?
Yes, there is a function to share your screen, so upload your files and have them ready on your device prior to the visit.
- If our telemedicine connection is not good, we can’t hear or see, what is the troubleshooting plan to keep the consult going?
If you and your provider cannot see/hear one another, your provider will call you on the phone number you provided.
- What are the expectations for follow up immediately after my telemedicine consult?
Your primary care coordinator/nurse and financial counselor will reach out to you, sign you up for our patient portal for secure online communication, and review your next steps and questions about insurance coverage/treatment costs.
- It’s been 10 minutes past my scheduled appointment, and my provider has not admitted me into the consult, what should I do?
Please call our mainline at 206-301-5000 and let our staff know. We are still seeing some patients in clinic for procedures, and your provider may be running a bit behind, or they may be having technical difficulties reaching you. We will contact you as soon as we can.
- I don’t have access to internet, can I still do a consult?
Yes, we can offer you a consult via a telephone call. Please let the scheduler know if this is the case.
- Is my telemedicine appointment covered by my insurance?
It depends. We can’t guarantee insurance coverage, but we are able to bill insurance (as long as it is a plan we contract with) for telemedicine appointments. However, it is up to each individual insurance plan whether they cover it or not. The telemedicine new patient consultations range from $150 to $300 without insurance coverage.