We may not know exactly what our new normal looks like after a pandemic. However, what we do know is that for our senior patients on Medicare over 65, it’s important to continue managing your ongoing health and chronic conditions, while also reducing your risk of exposure to coronavirus. For non-urgent needs or appointments not requiring a lab test or an up-close physical exam, we will encourage folks to use video doctor visits with their provider and care team. Here are some reasons why.
Why Video Doctor Visits Can Be More Helpful Than In-Person Visits
Your Doctor Can Get To Know Your Home Environment
Our home, family and social environments play a big role in our health and care plan goals. Also, if you go to a relationship-based doctor like Iora Primary Care, our doctors and health coaches want to learn about your daily life and your life goals. Video doctor visits give your doctor and care team a great opportunity to get to know your life at home.
Video visits can allow your doctor and care team to:
- See your vitamin and medication bottles from your medicine cabinet to help identify which ones you keep taking and which ones you toss!
- Get a real visual of the stairs that cause you knee pain
- See how you use your blood pressure machine for at-home measurements
- And finally, meet your beloved dog, Clifford
Family, Friends & Caregivers Can Join Your Virtual Doctor Visits
You can include loved ones—your spouse, your children, your grandchildren—or caregivers, who may live out of town or out of state to join in on the conversation with your doctor and care team. This is a great way for them to support you virtually in your healthcare and be there as an extra set of ears to help you if you forget about something that was discussed — it can be a lot of information to retain at once!
Convenience, convenience, oh how convenient!
Between traffic and some of those of us who no longer drive, as well as caregivers’ busy schedules, it can be hard to find time to commute to and from doctors’ appointments. Yet with virtual care, all of these obstacles go away. You can log into your appointment from the comfort of your home at your convenience.
Medicare Plan Coverage of Telehealth
According to Medicare.gov, for most telehealth services, you’ll pay the same amount that you would if you got the services in person.
Depending on your insurance plan, some Medicare Advantage plans are reducing or waiving coinsurance and deductibles for in-person or telehealth visits.
Important reminder: As always, call your insurance provider to understand what costs may or may not apply to your upcoming doctor’s visits.
How to Prepare for Your Video Doctor Visits
Just like an in-person doctor’s visit, you will want to make sure you are prepared for your virtual appointment. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Make sure your device: laptop, tablet, or phone, is fully charged.
- Set yourself up in an area of your home with a strong wifi connection as well as privacy if needed.
- Gather relevant details and medical information like dates of important procedures and specialists’ contact information. Writing details down in advance can help you remember them during your appointment.
- Wear appropriate clothes for any physical concerns you may want during your visit. (For example, if you’re experiencing leg swelling or a rash on your calf, wearing shorts can help you easily discuss and review this condition with your doctor).
- Compile medications to show to your doctor while on screen. You can also write them down in a list if that helps to organize your thoughts before joining your virtual doctor visit.
- Choose a local pharmacy OR mail order pharmacy for longer-term prescription refills.
- Ready questions for your provider beforehand; these can be easy to forget in the moment!
- Similarly, take potential vital signs in advance to help ensure a smooth visit. Check your blood pressure if you have a blood pressure machine; check your pulse if you have a pulse oximeter; take your temperature, and check your weight if possible — these vitals are important and may be relevant depending on the purpose of your appointment.
- Finally, be ready early! While virtual care is certainly more convenient, it’s always possible to get distracted or encounter a technical problem. At Iora, our care teams will also call you right before your appointment, for this reason, to help you get settled in.
Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor About Video Visits
Healthcare has changed, what feels like, overnight. And with so many changes, it’s important that your primary care and specialist doctors have also made changes to fit the new needs of patients in this new environment. Here are the questions you should be asking your doctors about telehealth:
- First and foremost, do you offer appointments over video?
- If the answer is no, ask why not? Or, are there future plans to implement video appointment capabilities?
- What technology do you use for virtual video appointments?
- Is the technology easy to use? Can you email me instructions for me to follow?
- How and when will you send me the login information for my video visit?
- What if the technology fails during our visit? What is the backup plan if we cannot connect successfully?
- Will my video visit be with my assigned primary care provider (PCP)? Or another provider?
- Will my doctor be on time for my video visit?
At Iora Primary Care, we are seeing many of our patients through video visits and frankly, some are really loving it:
“Just finished a video conference [with my doctor and health coach] to discuss my health issues. This technology is great, the first time I ever video conferenced with anyone. As usual Dr. Kim and Mia provided me with feedback and guidance needed to manage my medical condition and get on the right track to a healthier lifestyle. Their style and manner actually are uplifting for me and will help me to attain my/our goals. This is the best medical team that I have ever had in my 66 years. Thank-You Iora Primary Care.”
-Patient at Iora Primary Care