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Getting the most out of a virtual doctor's visit

A family health physician offers advice on how to get the most out of an online visit with your doctor.
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The power of technology has made interacting with others easier during COVID-19 – including our doctors.

But conducting a virtual health visit can take some getting used to.

According to Neha Vyas, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, the first thing to do before a virtual visit is make sure you’re prepared.

“If you happen to know your vital signs, such as your weight, or if you have a blood pressure cuff at home, or if you know how to take your pulse, this information is really important and can really make your visit go much more smoothly,” she said.

Dr. Vyas recommends having medications with you, so the doctor can go over what you are currently taking.

If you have diabetes and need to check blood sugars, make sure to let your doctor know the latest results.

When it’s time for the call – go to a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can hear the doctor, and the doctor can hear you.

When you’re setting up your phone or computer for the visit, it’s important to make sure you are clearly visible. Don’t sit with a window behind you, as doing so can cast a shadow on your face.

Dr. Vyas said it’s also important to prop up your device in a way that your doctor can see you from the torso up.

“We can actually evaluate how you’re breathing, if you’re using any other muscles for anything, and we can evaluate for any lumps in your neck,” she said. “It’s very helpful to have yourself positioned – not in bed, not lying down – but actually sitting up, just like you were in a doctor’s office.”

Because you are using your device for the call, you likely won’t be able to take notes on your phone, so Dr. Vyas suggests having paper and a pencil nearby to record important information.

If you forget to mention something to your doctor, remember that you can always call the office after your visit to follow up.

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