Getting ready for your first telehealth consult? Here’s what you need to do.
Most therapists or clinics will send you instructions before your appointment, confirming the time and telling you how to access your telehealth appointment.
So, check your email or messages and follow the instructions you’ve been given.
Unless your smartphone, tablet or laptop is very old, it’s likely to be fine for video calls.
If you’ve never used it in that way before, then you might benefit from a bit of practice before your appointment. You could try out Skype, Facebook Messenger or Zoom.
If you have an old mobile or computer without a video camera, or if you’ve deliberately chosen a ‘dumb phone’ to stop smartphone apps taking over your life, then you need to let your therapist know that you can’t participate in a video conference. You’ll probably be offered a telephone call instead.
Assuming your device can receive video calls, you may still need to install some software.
There are several ways to provide a telehealth appointment using video. Your therapist will choose their preferred platform and should give you clear instructions on anything you need to do before your appointment.
You therapist might choose:
A video consultation will definitely drain your battery so make sure your device is fully charged before your appointment (better still, keep it plugged in during the call if you can).
You’re about to have a health appointment, meaning you might be discussing private, sensitive information that you don’t necessarily want others in your house to overhear.
So, try to find a private place for the call, where you can close the door and block out distracting background noise caused by rowdy flatmates or boisterous kids.
If you’re having a telehealth psychology appointment, then you’re likely to sit still and talk through your appointment (do you need tissues nearby?). If you’re meeting with your physio, however, you may be asked to get up and try some exercises, in which case you’ll need to ensure you have a bit of space to move freely.
If you’re expecting a short chat, then you can probably hold your device. But most appointments are likely to be between 30-60 minutes and it’s awkward and tiring to hold your phone or tablet for that long.
So, now that you’ve chosen the room you’ll be in, it’s time to choose where to position your phone, tablet or laptop.
Ideally, pick somewhere comfortable, near a charging station, where you can sit so the screen is in front of you capturing your face rather than pointing up at the ceiling!
You might need to put your device on top of a few books or boxes or lean it against something to keep it at the right angle. That’s all fine – just get it sorted before your appointment so you don’t lose time at the beginning of your session.
If you’re very private or houseproud, then think about what the camera can see behind you too. Do you want your therapist to see piles of dirty laundry on the floor? If not, move them out of the way.
If you can, try to sit with your biggest source of light (i.e. a window) in front of you. That means the light hits your face, rather than hitting your back and throwing your face into shadow.
Good lighting makes a big difference to a telehealth video consultation. It lets your therapist see your facial expressions more easily, which makes it easier to build a rapport. It can also be clinically significant if you’re expressing physical pain or emotional distress.
If you have any test results, referrals, food or mood diaries, or other relevant information about your condition, make sure you have it with you.
Much like a work meeting, you shouldn’t be getting up to hunt around your house for paperwork – it should be with you, ready to hand in case it’s needed.
It’s also a good idea to have a notepad and pen there too. You can write down any questions you’d like your therapist to answer and note their advice or suggested resources to follow up.
Providing it’s decent, it doesn’t really matter what you wear to see your psychologist, dietician or speech therapist.
However, if you’re seeing a physiotherapist, you may be asked to get up and do some exercises. So, wear something that’s easy to move around in.
Your therapist will let you know how they wish to be paid. Some send an invoice afterwards (please pay promptly) others take payment on the day.
Have your credit or debit card handy so you can pay for the therapy you’ve received.
If you’ve followed these steps, you’re well prepared for your telehealth consultation. All you need to do now is be ready on time! It’s so much easier than driving to a clinic, finding parking and sitting in a waiting room until your therapist is ready.
If you’d like to try a telehealth appointment for allied health services like physiotherapy, psychology, speech therapy or dietetics, then download the Therago app and get started.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.