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What should I know before my telehealth visit?

Learn tips to help your telehealth visit run smoothly.

Illustration of a man sitting in a wheelchair holding a tablet in his hands and staring at it as if in a video call.

How do I prepare for my virtual appointment?

Before the start of your telehealth visits, you should:

  • Know the costs. Before the visit, ask how much it will cost. If you can’t afford the visit or do not have health insurance, your health care provider may have local resources.
  • Ask for help if needed. Let your provider know if you need support like a screen reader, closed captioning, a translator, or other help.
  • Check your visit details. Your health care provider will remind you about your visit. They may send you a text, email, call, or message in the patient portal(video). Sometimes there are forms to fill out or directions on how to start your telehealth visit.
  • Find a good spot. Choose a quiet place with good access to the internet. Make sure you are comfortable and can talk openly.
  • Test your technology. Make sure your internet and the device you are using for the visit works well. Sometimes, a member of your health care provider’s team will help you test. If you have technology problems, look at these technology trouble shooting tips.

Learn what you need and how to start your video visit.

What should I do before a video visit?

There are many tools or apps for telehealth video visits. They might look a little different from each other, but they all work in similar ways. After you log in, here is what to look for:

This button controls your camera. When you see a slash through it, that means your health care provider cannot see you.

This button controls your microphone. When you see a slash through it, that means your health care provider cannot hear you.

When you click this button, a chat box will open up. The chat box lets you type and send messages to your health care provider.

This button is usually red. Clicking on it will end your telehealth video meeting.

Once you are logged in to your appointment, you should:

  • Adjust lighting. Make sure your health care provider can clearly see you.
  • Steady camera. Keep your device stable. Put your computer on a desk or table or use something to hold up your phone or tablet.
  • Be centered. Sit so your face is in the middle of the screen and the camera is at the same height as your eyes. Remember, how you look on the screen is how your health care provider will see you.
  • Check sound. Make sure you can hear well. Test your speakers or earphones and adjust the volume if needed.
  • Close extra stuff. Shut down other things on your computer or device. This can make your internet faster and you won't get distracted.

Learn about features you may use during your telehealth visit.

How do I ensure my telehealth visit is successful?

Feeling prepared and knowing what to expect will help you have a successful visit. Some tips for success include:

  • Sign on early. If something goes wrong or you can't get the video to start, you can message your provider or call their office.
  • Make a list. Before the visit, write down things you want to talk about. Keep paper and a pen close to take notes during the visit. Here are things you might want to write down:
    • The medicines you are taking and how much
    • Any problems, worries, or questions you want to discuss
    • Your temperature, weight, blood pressure, or blood sugar level
    • Allergies to food or medicine.
  • Stay on track. It is best not to eat or drink during a telehealth visit. And always be safe — do not have a telehealth visit while you are driving or running errands.
  • Be patient. Sometimes health care providers are running late, just like in a regular provider office. Be patient if you have to wait.

How can I feel confident with telehealth?

Confident means that you have the information and ability to speak for yourself during your health care visits. In order to feel confident in your telehealth visit, you should:

  • Learn how telehealth works. It is okay to ask your provider how the telehealth visit will work and what to expect.
  • Share your name and pronouns. Tell the provider the name you like to be called and your pronouns. They should respect your preferences.
  • Take your time. This is your visit. You shouldn’t feel rushed or like you can’t speak up.
  • Pick a good provider. Find a health care provider who really listens to you and what you are feeling.
  • Ask questions. If something isn’t clear, ask your provider to explain it. Make sure you understand their answers.
  • Get a summary. After the visit, ask the provider to send you a summary or notes. This can include answers to the questions you asked.
  • Only share what makes you comfortable. You decide what you want to tell your health care provider. If you don’t want to answer something, it is okay to say so.
  • Know your rights. Understand what information your provider can share and what they can’t. Learn how your personal health information is kept safe during your telehealth visit and what you can do to protect your privacy.

More information:

5 Tips to get health care from anywhere (PDF) — Health Resources and Services Administration

Navigating Your Patient Portal (video) — Health Resources and Services Administration

What Do You Need to Use Telehealth? (video) — Health Resources and Services Administration