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Getting Started With Telemedicine – Virtual Appointments

Lexington, Ky (October 9, 2020) - Telemedicine is transforming how we interact with our doctors. You now have access to medical care from the comfort of your home using virtual or online consultations. Using your phone, tablet or a computer, your doctor can answer questions, evaluate your symptoms, follow up on an in-person visit, and provide a diagnosis or support. This allows you to save travel time, money and avoid sitting in those waiting rooms for extended periods of time. 

What Do I Need for a Virtual Consultation With My Doctor?

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You need access to an internet-enabled phone, tablet or computer. You also need access to reliable wireless or wired internet service.

How Do I Get Started With Setting Up a Virtual Appointment?

  1. To start, check with your medical provider to learn what telehealth options are available to you and how to schedule a visit.
  2. Before your appointment, your healthcare provider will request that you download the provider’s custom application (or mobile app for your smartphone or tablet) from the provider’s website. Do not be intimidated — the provider’s staff will guide you through the setup process.  
    1. If You Have a Smartphone or Tablet: If you have an iPhone you will need to download the application from the Apple App store. Depending on your phone's settings, you may need to log in with your Apple ID to start the download. Then click the App Store icon or button to upload the app. Afterward, you'll click the Install button. If you have an Android device, you'll find a Google Play icon. Click on Install, then on the Open button. Once you have an account, you can use the app to launch a video visit. Some applications also allow you to schedule an appointment and view your medical information.
    2. If You Have a Desktop or Laptop: There are several different ways to connect using your computer. One way is that the day of the appointment, you may receive an email from your provider with a link to your video appointment. When your provider joins, you will click on Join with video and audio, enabling you to see and hear each other. Be sure the video and audio icons are not crossed out on the screen. If they are, click on them (the line crossing them out will disappear) so that you can see and hear your doctor.

In some instances, your provider may ask you to use popular videoconferencing applications such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or WebEx. In the case of iPhones, FaceTime is already on the phone.

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Another videoconferencing software that is regularly used in telemedicine is called Again, your provider will relay the necessary links for you to download the software. Prior to the appointment, the provider will contact you by phone, text message or email with a reminder about the appointment. Some providers may provide secure link for you to test their software.

What to Expect During the Appointment

During a virtual visit, the doctor takes a medical history and asks about your medication allergies and symptoms. Although she is able to verify your current prescriptions and medication allergies via their electronic records, you may be required to show and discuss your current prescriptions. The doctor will be able to assess your symptoms and provide a treatment plan that may recommend an in-person follow-up visit or in cases of concern, a trip to an urgent care facility. 

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About the Author: Heather Gate is the Connection Nation Director of Digital Inclusion. She is responsible for strategy development and implementation of programs that impact Digital Inclusion for all people in all places. She provides project management services including identification of program challenges and goals as well as day-to-day oversight and funding research.  Heather also serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE).