By Krisendra Markham – Quality and Data Manager, FMH Coordinator
While telemedicine (delivering medical care at a distance) and telehealth (the electronic and telecommunications technologies and services used to provide telemedicine) have been around for decades, COVID-19 has made remote care a more popular option to help reduce exposure for patients and healthcare staff.
Your Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) telehealth appointment can take place on your landline phone or with your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
SICHC offers video and smartphone visits through FollowMyHealth, a secure message and video platform available through the FollowMyHealth App on your smartphone (Apple or Android), or through your computer’s web browser.
Although having a FollowMyHealth account isn’t required. Just call any of our four offices and a staff member will help schedule you for the type of appointment that best fits your needs. (If you have a FollowMyHealth account, you can schedule your appointment through that portal.)
Once your appointment is scheduled, a staff member will call you before your appointment begins to ask some routine questions, and, if needed, give you additional instructions. Your care provider will then start the visit (phone call or video).
TIP: If you’re using the FollowMyHealth App, you can supply much of this information prior to the virtual appointment. For example, you can upload a close up photo of a skin rash. Here is a link to the FollowMyHealth YouTube channel to get familiar with the platform.
• Find a quiet space. You want to be able to focus on your appointment without interruptions from children, pets or roommates. A separate room, going to a friend’s house or even sitting in your car (while it’s parked!) can give you the privacy you need.
• Prepare your device (for video). Close other applications to prevent distractions and keep your internet speed from slowing down. Then position your device so you are visible on the screen and the lighting in the room doesn’t shadow your face.
• Review any instructions or emails from your provider. These can include how to log on to the FollowMyHealth app or gather specific health information such as your temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, or weight.
TIP: If you need to download an app, do it well before your visit so you can road-test it and address any problems.
• Compile your concerns. Make a list of any symptoms, questions or worries you want to discuss during the appointment. Has anything changed since your last appointment? Are your vaccines up to date?
• Collect your meds. Make a list of prescription medications as well as any OTC (over-the-counter) medications or supplements you take on a regular basis. Do you need refills for any prescriptions? Have the bottle available and double-check the dosage instructions.
• Have a notepad handy. During the visit, you’ll want to take notes so have pen and paper at hand. If you prefer to use a device, don’t try to take notes on the same one you’re using for the telehealth appointment, but have a second one ready.
• Gather your health data. This includes your health history, recent vaccines, other healthcare providers and the phone number and location of your local pharmacy.
• Stay focused. Don’t eat or drink, take calls or check your email during your visit. Your full attention should be on the visit, just as though you were in the examination room.
• Ask questions. If you aren’t sure what the doctor said (sometimes there can be a problem with the audio) or you need additional details, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. If the doctor orders bloodwork or other tests, confirm where they are to take place and when you can expect results.
• Review your treatment plan. Before you end the call, review the treatment plan your doctor recommended and ask what you should do if your problem persists.
• Follow instructions. If you need to make another appointment (either virtual or in-person), change your current medication schedule or begin taking a new one, be sure to do so.
• Bring your notes. If your doctor advises you to see another physician or go to the ER, bring your notes from your telehealth call.
• Track any changes. The doctor will want to know if your symptoms improve or if you notice any new changes.
Call your insurance provider beforehand to confirm coverage. Phone and video visits are billed to your insurance just like a regular office visit. If you do not have insurance, please call our Self Pay Department for more information at 812-723-7121 or visit our payment options webpage.
If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, know that Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services, but you should check with your state regarding Medicaid coverage for telehealth services.
This checklist with tips from Telehealth.HHS.gov and American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology will help you prepare so you can get the most from your appointment. You can also watch this video from the Hawaii State Department of Health Genomics Section to learn more about what to expect from a telehealth visit.