Telehealth – or the ability to have an appointment with a medical provider over the phone or computer – has historically been limited to certain conditions and for certain types of appointments. But in response to the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as many states cautiously begin to re-open, telehealth is becoming more widely adopted.
Following the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency declaration earlier this year, restrictions that limited the use of telehealth were lifted, making it more widely available for people across the United States.
Creating more ways for breast cancer patients to connect with their doctors from the safety of their homes has been a positive and welcomed development. For patients to get the most out of their appointments, Komen has put together recommendations and also identified things they should be aware of to minimize complications, during and after the appointment.
- Ask how to access the appointment – through a patient portal, a link via email or text message.
- If using a computer, test the microphone and speakers beforehand. If using a phone, test headphones or speaker.
- Find out if the visit will be covered by insurance or if you will have to pay out of pocket.
- Ask if someone can join the visit, if you wish.
- Complete any required paperwork, consent forms or release.
- Write down everything you want to discuss with your doctor and take notes during the session so you can follow any recommendations.
- Make sure your device is plugged in or charged.
- Check your lighting so that the doctor can see you.
- If a follow-up appointment is needed, ask whether it will be over the phone or computer, or in person.
- If a prescription is issued, find out where to pick it up.
Things To Be Aware Of
- Technology is essential so make sure you have the capability to do to a remote appointment before scheduling it.
- If using the computer, make sure the Internet is working and reliable, so the session isn’t cut off.
- Medical providers may have trouble seeing and interpreting body language, so you’ll have to describe your issues in greater detail than you would during an in-person session.
- Not all insurance companies cover all telehealth visits so it is important that you understand what costs may be associated with the visit.
- If the doctor orders lab work, you’ll have to do that in-person
- If you and the doctor don’t speak the same language, an interpreter may not be available for the session. If translation is needed, check with the provider before the visit to ask about options.