Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
“Telemedicine” or “telehealth” refers to healthcare visits over the telephone or by video. In response to the current Covid-19 pandemic, most health care organizations have moved many appointments to this new telemedicine format. Their goal is to help limit coronavirus spread.
Great question! Several specific details can help. For example: what your symptom feels like, when you get it, what makes it better or worse, and more. These great tips can help you explain your medical concerns so your doctor or nurse can best help you.
Your healthcare provider will also want to know if you have had any:
- Visits to a hospital, emergency room, or specialty offices. For example, did you see a heart or knee doctor recently?
- Tests or procedures
- Other health worries or life changes
It’s good for both you and your doctor to plan ahead! Check your medications, and note which ones need refills. If you are able to, check your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate) and weight before the visit. This can save time and help your visit go more smoothly. If you can’t, don’t worry. Below are some links to help you.
If you have diabetes and use a blood sugar tester (glucometer), please list your blood glucose, the date you checked it, and if it was after food or fasting.
OurNotes is a new project started by the OpenNotes team. OurNotes invites patients to contribute important information before the visit to help them work with their healthcare providers to improve care. Before visits, patients a) send their doctors updates, and b) write out their main goals for the visit. Before telemedicine visits patients also list any changes in their medications, and check their vital signs (when possible — see 'What else can I do to help prepare for my visit?' above). Their providers then review this information before or during visits. We call this OurNotes because the doctor, nurse, or therapist can refer to what patients wrote in the notes they write after the visit, and some bring the patient’s words right into the notes. We are offering and evaluating OurNotes in several parts of the country, and early reports from both patients and doctors are very promising!
If you have not received that kind of invitation through the portal, it’s because only some doctors are participating now, although we hope soon the project will expand to many more healthcare providers. You can still fill this form out before your visit to help prepare. And if you are not registered for the patient portal, ask your healthcare provider how to get on and get connected with your health information!
Your healthcare provider may read what you write before or during your visit, and may also include your comments in the note that s/he writes about the visit. As with your entire record, the healthcare provider’s note can also be reviewed by other clinicians involved in your care. It’s always helpful to remind your healthcare provider that you completed the form, in case they did not receive it before your visit.