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How to make the most out of a doctor’s appointment over the phone or a video call

Due to social distancing restrictions, it is becoming more common for doctor’s surgeries to handle appointments over the phone or via video calls wherever possible. For some, this is a welcomed change as it saves a lot of energy and travel, however, it can also cause anxiety for those who prefer to communicate face-to-face.

If this is the case for you, it may be a good idea to set aside some time before your call to prepare. Some things to consider are; (1)

  •  Call or email your doctor’s surgery beforehand to ensure they have the correct contact details and a preferred phone number
  • Note any medications you are currently taking in case you need to mention them in the call
  • Choose a quiet room to take the call, without distractions so you can hear properly
  • You may want to use earphones with a microphone if you are worried about background noise
  • Make sure that your phone is fully charged if applicable
  • Make notes of your symptoms and questions to refer to in your call

If you are asked to participate in a video call rather than your normal face-to-face appointment process. This could also be referred to as a ‘virtual appointment’ or ‘online consultation’. If you are attending a video call, you will receive a link to join the call ahead of time. Different hospitals and surgeries use different video call systems. Some may require you to ‘log in’ using your name and date of birth. If possible, it can be helpful to do this ahead of time so that you don’t use your appointment time. (2) It is important to remember that your doctor’s surgery will understand that not everyone is ‘tech-savvy’! Usually, to join a virtual consultation all you will need to do is click a link. It is very unlikely you will need to download any software in advance. If you are feeling unsure, contact reception ahead of time and ask for advice.

Make sure you have a good internet connection ahead of the call and sit in a well-lit area so that your doctor can see you clearly. You should be able to see your own camera as well as your doctor. To get the best internet connection, you may choose to sit in a room close to your wi-fi router.

Sometimes, like with face-to-face appointments, your doctor may be running a bit behind. Don’t panic if they are late to the call. If you are worried, you may wish to ring the reception to ask if there is a delay.

When the call starts, make sure you are not set to ‘mute’ so that your doctor is able to hear you speak. If you have any trouble hearing your doctor, try talking over the phone instead. After your appointment, you will be able to end the call before closing the tab. Remember to make note of any important dates or key points!

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References

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