How to get the most out of a VirtualCare visit

By Kirsten Lewis, Think Research VP R&D, CNephC, BSc, MN

Even as we move into a phase of lifting restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, it’s clear that virtual healthcare is likely to remain as part of our everyday lives.

For patients and healthcare professionals, it means that if you haven’t already adapted to a virtual visit model, there’s a good chance you soon will.

There’s a lot to love about virtual visits. They’re convenient for patients — no travel or parking, less waiting and the ability to see your own physician from the comfort of your own home or (eventually) your office and they’re efficient for physicians too.

But for most of us — healthcare providers and patients alike — they’re new, still a little awkward and different from what we’re used to. So we had our clinical and VirtualCare teams put together this list of five tips to help a patient get the most out of their visit.

1. Make a list.

Just like you would for an in-person visit, it’s best to jot down a few notes about what it is you’d like to discuss with the doctor. What are your symptoms? How long have they been around? How have they changed over time? Do you have specific questions? Do you need a prescription? Taking some time to reflect on those details will help your doctor help you.

2. Be prepared.

There are a number of very basic self-assessment skills that you can learn how to do at home. Having the ability to check your own heart-rate, for instance, by taking your pulse can provide your doctor with helpful information when they can’t see you in person. You can take your own pulse by placing two fingers on your wrist. Set a timer for 30 seconds and count how many beats you can feel. Double that to calculate your heart rate.

3. Check your tech.

Sounds obvious, but a video virtual visit can be a drain on your device battery. Make sure your device is fully charged or plugged in to an outlet. Be sure to download the necessary software or app and check that your wifi signal is working and strong and that your audio and video functions are turned on.

4. Get comfortable.

Like an in-person doctor’s appointment, your privacy and comfort are paramount. Wherever possible, find a quiet place with good lighting where you can be alone to focus on the visit and are able to speak openly with your doctor about your symptoms.

5. Know when to go.

An emergency is just that – if you are experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, severe abdominal or chest pain you should go to hospital and be seen in-person right away. Staying at home in an emergency can lead to unexpected problems and you’ll be safe and well cared for at your local ER.

We’d love to hear more about your experience with VirtualCare and virtual visits — send us your stories and feedback at