← Return to Telemedicine: How to make the most of a virtual doctor visit

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@124124eva made the point in another discussion that with telephone consults providers cannot take into account body language, but rather will have to rely on questions, such as "do you understand?" Some facilities are offering video consults, which can help include body language. As with any doctor visit, I think it is important to:
1. Be honest when answering questions. Your doctor can only make decisions based on what you tell him or her.
2. Prepare questions ahead of time.
3. Repeat back in your own words what the doctor has told you. This helps to identify any item that may have been misinterpreted or poorly explained.
4. Ask if you can record the consult to listen to later or share with a family member.

I'd also like to bring @marvinjsturing @roch @danielad and @elizm into this discussion as they have had or will be having tele-consults.

What tips do you have to make the most of a telephone consult? What concerns you? What are the advantages to telemedicine?

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Replies to "@124124eva made the point in another discussion that with telephone consults providers cannot take into account..."

Colleen, a couple items I can think of. My tele-visit is about week away.
– Prior to call, check with your insurance company about coverage of telephone visits.
– If call via phone, make sure your phone is charged (or plugged in). Would hate to have battery die in middle of call. Also take call in quite place where not disbursed. Have pen and paper ready. My biggest challenge will be to keep dog from barking during call.
– If your tele-visit is at Mayo, after call, review the portal notes. This is good idea for tele-visit or in person visits.
– If you discuss future appointments or test, ask when and how they will be scheduled. At Mayo, normally you stop at appointment desk to set up future appointments. Seeing this tele-visit, and future appointment scheduling is on hold, ask if someone will contact you and if there is a timeframe.


Colleen has listed important points regarding preparing for and engaging in tele-visits. At a tele-visit, however, there is no one to alert you to anomalies in your BP, pulse, temperature, and weight… important information for any doctor visit. As much as we patients may want to resist it, it's time to start taking responsibility for tracking and conveying this information to our healthcare providers. Cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to all sorts of downstream issues.

Omron makes an excellent home blood pressure cuff. If you have ever had a blood pressure issue, you need to make an effort to see how you're doing. If it appears too high or too low, log it daily and convey the results during your tele-visit. CVS has a good digital thermometer worth obtaining, especially in light of the Covid-19 news. Keep it handy and just make sure, now and then, that your temperature is normal. If you have a respiratory issue (from radiation, or past pneumonia events, asthma, etc.), get a good pulse/oximeter which monitors the oxygen saturation of your blood. If it registers below 95, note that to your doctor. Get a good bathroom scale and weigh yourself weekly; be honest with your doctor if you have lost or put on pounds. In other words, become your own physician's assistant… help him/her help you.

And please note, any one particular abnormality which you convey, may or may not be of concern to your doctor, but it will help him/her ask you appropriate questions, and better understand what's going on inside you.