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The benefits of telemedicine in a pandemic

A woman sits on a couch using a tablet.

Telemedicine was making inroads before the COVID-19 outbreak as a handy way for people to visit with a medical provider. But with the arrival of the pandemic, the virtual office visit is gaining even more fans, according to AARP.

Telemedicine is using your computer, phone or other device to have a medical visit with your provider. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benefits include:

  • Not having to travel to a distant office.
  • Less contact with other people. That's particularly helpful in the age of COVID-19.
  • The possibility of seeing a faraway medical specialist.

Telemedicine can provide people in both cities and rural areas with access to safe and effective care when and where they need it.

What you can expect from a virtual visit

A virtual visit is much like an office visit. You'll have an appointed time to check in, by way of a computer or mobile device. When the provider is ready to see you, you'll be connected through a video link. The provider will have your chart in front of them.

Your provider might have you take your temperature. They might also talk you through taking your pulse. Your provider will ask you about your symptoms.

How to have a successful virtual visit

You can help your visit go more smoothly by following these steps:

  • Use a good webcam. Your computer probably came with one.
  • Set the camera at eye level.
  • Make sure your volume is turned on.
  • Try out your microphone before the visit.
  • Use a wired internet connection instead of Wi-Fi, if possible.
  • Close other computer programs you won't need during the visit.
  • Find a quiet space where you won't be interrupted.
  • Have your provider's phone number with you in case your connection goes down.

Want more information about COVID-19? Visit the Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 4/30/2020

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