Tips for successful virtual consultations

Here is a quick checklist to make sure your appointment is successful and free of technical glitches.

  • Choose a room that is quiet and where you will not be interrupted. You should feel comfortable with some privacy.
  • Ensure that there is adequate lighting and adjust it if needed. Your image should be clear and not dark or fuzzy. Turn on overhead lights and block light from windows to avoid direct light on the screen.
  • For iOS devices (iPhone / iPad) the Apple Safari web browser is recommended.
  • For Android, Windows and MacOS devices we recommend the Google Chrome web browser to join the consultation.
  • Plug in your computer or mobile phone to ensure that you have enough power for the duration of the consultation.
  • Make sure that you have enough data.
  • Check that your webcam or phone camera is working.
  • Stabilise the device that you’re using to ensure a clear and stable healthcare professional / patient image throughout.
  • Set-up the camera at eye-level. This will make it easier for your healthcare professional to see and engage with you.
  • Check the quality of the sound. Most computers and smartphones have a decent built-in microphone and speakers, but check yours to ensure that the sound is on and it is clear.
  • Close unnecessary programs as these may strain the memory of your computer or device and consequently reduce the quality of the virtual conversation.
  • Set a reminder to notify you that your consultation is about to commence.
  • Log on 5 minutes before the time of the consultation in case you have to resolve technical glitches.
  • Make a list of the problems you wish to discuss with your healthcare professional.  This will ensure the conversation is to the point and you cover all your concerns.
  • If you have been tracking your blood pressure, weight or blood sugars at home, be ready to share that information.
  • Keep all medication at hand if you have to share the details with the healthcare professional.
  • Take photos of any physical evidence that may be related to your consultation.
  • Dress appropriately as the healthcare professional will see you throughout the consultation.
  • Have the telephone number of the specific Intercare practice with you in case there is a technical issue and you must call back.
  • Stay engaged. Make sure you look into the camera and stay close to your device so that the healthcare professional can clearly see and hear you.
  • Act the same as when you’re in a face-to-face consultation.
  • There might be a slight voice delay during the conversation. Keep that in mind to avoid speaking simultaneously with the healthcare professional.
  • Provide the healthcare professional with a thorough explanation of your medical issue, symptoms and medication that you’re currently using. Inform your healthcare professional about the doses, frequency, and side effects, if any.
  • If you need a repeat script, inform the healthcare professional.
  • Listen carefully and ask questions to clarify uncertainties.
  • Make sure that you follow the instructions given to you by the healthcare professional.
  • If there are changes to your medication, enquire whether you should schedule a follow-up consultation to discuss the affect of the medication.
  • Ask about follow-up visits. Will it be another virtual consultation?  Are there laboratory tests that you will need to visit the practice for?  Can all activities be scheduled on the same day?  Are there special precautions you should take for a face-to-face consultation?

Call the practice if you are concerned about an injury. This can assist the healthcare professional to decide which will be the best way and place to care for your needs. Depending on what you’re experiencing, the healthcare professional may give you advice about self-care at home; or request you to schedule a face-to-face consultation at the practice; or alternatively advise you to seek emergency care.

You can prepare for these calls:

  • Inform the practice or helpline of all your symptoms, including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and any parameters you have measured.
  • Let them know what you’ve done to treat yourself (if anything) and what the outcome was.
  • If the healthcare professional advises you how to manage your symptoms at home, enquire about a follow-up consultation, as well as symptoms that would require immediate evaluation.

If you are concerned that you have COVID-19 symptoms, or you’re not feeling well after you’ve been exposed to someone who has it, it is critical to call the practice (or emergency room for severe symptoms, like difficulty to breathe) before you arrive at the practice.

Your healthcare professional will advise you about the procedures to follow. Calling ahead ensures that other patients and healthcare providers are protected from being exposed to COVID-19.

  • If you are having symptoms like fever, dry cough, and/or shortness of breath, inform your healthcare professional immediately. For mild symptoms, including sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, nausea, diarrhoea, and an upset stomach, it’s also advisable to inform your healthcare professional, especially if you live in an area where there are several COVID-19 cases, and to practise social distancing while you monitor your symptoms.
  • Make sure that you know when to schedule a follow-up consultation if your healthcare professional advises you to manage your symptoms at home.
  • Ask advice on how to protect other members of your household from also contracting the virus.
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