Preparing for a virtual visit
For your telehealth visit, you will need a device that has video and an internet connection, such as a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
If you do not have a computer, tablet, smartphone, or internet connection, ask your health care provider about an audio-only telehealth visit using a telephone.
Getting comfortable with telehealth
A telehealth visit is very similar to an in-person visit except you and the health care provider are in different places.
Telehealth Services: A number of health care services can be provided with telehealth.
Benefits: There are many reasons why telehealth may be a good option for you such as reduced wait time, transportation, and disruption to daily responsibilities.
New to telehealth: Get tips and information on the basics of telehealth (PDF).
Preparing for your virtual visit
The following tips will help your telehealth visit run smoothly.
- Let your health care provider know if you need accommodations. You can request assistance like a screen reader, closed captioning, translator/interpreter, or other support as needed.
- Check your email for instructions. Review emails, texts, or other communication from your provider’s office. These may include information about your appointment and how to log on and use related technology.
- Test the technology before the visit. A member of the health care team may offer to test the technology with you or send you a test link to help identify and address any challenges. You can also look at some technology trouble shooting tips.
- Tell your health care provider if you do not have health insurance or cannot afford the costs. Your provider will likely know of programs or clinics where you can get low-cost or free services, including mobile clinics for free wellness checks and vaccinations. Information on paying for your telehealth visit is available.
Learn what you need and how to start your video visit.
Before the start of your appointment (if using video)
- Find a well-lit spot. Make sure there is good lighting so your health care provider can see your face.
- Make sure the camera is steady. Set your computer or laptop on a flat service or prop up your phone or tablet on a desk or table.
- Make sure you are in the middle of the screen and the camera is at eye level. What you see on your screen is the same thing the provider will see so it is important to make sure that you are close to the screen and looking straight into the camera.
- Reduce background noise. Find a quiet place and reduce any distractions. Turn off alarms and sounds on other devices.
- Close other applications. Close other applications on your device to improve your internet connection and reduce distractions.
Recommendations for a successful visit (video or audio)
- Choose a private spot. You will want to be able to discuss your health care issues in private.
- Write it down. Write down important information before the visit such as:
- Your current medications and doses (or gather the actual bottles)
- Any symptoms, questions, or concerns you want to discuss
- Your temperature or weight (if the provider asks for this information)
- Keep paper and pen nearby to take notes during your telehealth appointment
- Stay focused. Try to avoid eating or drinking during your appointment. Do not do a telehealth visit while you are driving or running errands.
- Be patient while waiting for your visit. Just like a regular in-person office visit, providers sometimes run behind schedule.
Did you know?
Some providers offer on-demand services so you can speak to a provider immediately without an appointment. Talk to your provider or health insurance plan to learn more.
After your appointment
- Contact the office or your provider if you still have questions. If you forgot to ask a question, think of something later, or need help to better understand your care, you can always contact your provider after your appointment.
- Make sure follow up care is scheduled as recommended. If the provider recommends follow-up care, like a future appointment, referral, lab work, imaging, or prescriptions, be sure to contact your provider if you need assistance.
- Give feedback and suggestions. Let your provider know if there was something about the telehealth visit that you liked or something that would have improved your telehealth experience.
Feeling empowered with telehealth
Empowered means that you have the information, confidence, and ability to speak for yourself during health care visits. Using telehealth provides many benefits including helping you feel more confident and in control.
What can you do to be empowered in your telehealth visit?
- Get information about how telehealth works. Feel free to ask the provider what to expect during your telehealth visit.
- Tell the provider your pronouns and preferred name. The provider should respect your preferences.
- Take your time. This is your time with your provider. You should not be made to feel rushed or unheard.
- Find a provider that listens. A good health care provider will take the time to listen to your concerns.
- Ask questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers you get. If the provider tells you something you don’t fully understand, ask them to further explain.
- Get a written summary. After your visit, the provider should send you information about your visit. You can ask them to include answers to any of the questions you asked.
- Decide what you are comfortable sharing. While more information will help the provider better treat you, you can tell the provider if you are uncomfortable answering some questions.
- Understand your rights. You can decide what information you do not want to share with your provider or for your provider to share with other health care professionals. Telehealth privacy for patients explains how your personal information is protected through telehealth.
Empowerment and health equity
Being empowered increases health equity— for yourself, your family, and others in your community. Health equity in telehealth is the opportunity for everyone to receive the health care they need and deserve.
Below are ways to be empowered using telehealth to advance health equity:
- Select a provider that makes you comfortable. Your health care provider should make you feel welcome and accepted regardless of your race, background, gender, or sexual orientation. If English is not your primary language, there are many providers who speak different languages or work with translation services to make sure you can understand the information.
- Give feedback to help your provider work toward more health equity in telehealth. This could be through outreach to the community, virtual discussions about community-specific topics, outreach on programs to reduce the costs of technology, or suggestions for online training.
Paying for your telehealth visit
Paying for your telehealth appointment varies depending on your insurance status and insurance coverage. Telehealth insurance varies from state to state and continues to expand across the country. Medicare covers the cost of virtual visits for appointments related to COVID-19. Many private insurance companies cover telehealth appointments with the same benefits as in-person visits.
Check with your insurance company to find out whether you are covered for a virtual visit and how much it will cost. Even if a virtual visit costs you a bit more, it could still save you money if you consider travel costs, lost wages, and childcare costs for in-person visits.
Troubleshooting telehealth technology
Here are common troubleshooting tips you can use if you are having trouble logging in to your telehealth appointment or if you have technology issues during the appointment itself.
- Restart your computer or device
- Make sure the device is plugged in and charged
- Check that the internet connection is working and is strong enough to work with the telehealth platform
- Close all other applications
- Update your internet browser (if the telehealth platform is web-based)
- Try connecting with a different device
- Check your email or call your provider’s office to reach someone who can provide help