Tips on how to prepare for your virtual checkup


This is part of a CBC Information Morning series where Halifax healthcare consultant Mary Jane Hampton talks about her. “health tips”: ways to improve your experience with the healthcare system.

A Nova Scotia healthcare consultant says virtual appointments with your doctor could continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“Although Nova Scotia was actually a world leader in telemedicine 20, 25 years ago … it is something that has not really remained a medical tool until the pandemic,” Mary Jane Hampton told CBC Information morning.

“The use of what is called virtual care is really picking up in the healthcare system and that’s a good thing. I think some of us hope that it will be a change in healthcare delivery that will continue after the pandemic sets in. “

Hampton said studies have suggested that 50 percent of what is done in a doctor’s office can be done virtually.

And many family doctors in Nova Scotia are doing exactly that: switch to telemedicine and offer appointments through phone calls and video calls.

Health consultant Mary Jane Hampton suggests an app can help patients keep track of essential health information (Robert Short / CBC)

So how do you prepare for a virtual date?

Hampton said that if you are using a cell phone, make sure the battery is charged, and if you are making a video call, make sure you have a good Internet connection.

He also said that people should be aware that a phone call from their doctor could appear as a blocked or private number.

“My father actually had a phone appointment with his doctor and it came in as a blocked number and he just doesn’t answer blocked calls,” he said.

“So if this is the time the doctor is supposed to call, be sure to pick up the phone.”

Within days of the pandemic declaring, health officials cleared the way for Canadians to have virtual appointments with their doctors. And while that has been widely viewed as very positive, there are still ways to take more advantage of the experience. Mary Jane Hampton has more. 7:16

Hampton said patients should find a quiet, private place to sit for their appointment, and should also prepare for possible distractions.

“If you are in a home like me, where you have dogs, post a sign on your front door when the appointment is happening to say, ‘Please don’t ring the bell and knock on the door,’ so you don’t need to deal with that kind of distraction, “he said.

Hampton said video calls can be similar to an in-person appointment because the doctor has visual cues. She said that a light source placed in front of you can help the doctor see you clearly.

And if you’re using an iPad for a video call, he suggested putting the device in a stable place, so you don’t have to hold it in front of you.

He also said that if you are video calling your doctor and you need to show him a part of your body, wear loose clothing.

“Make sure you wear an article of clothing that is easy to get to that part of your body so it doesn’t wobble during the date.”

Hampton said patients must have a notepad and pen nearby to be able to write down any information the doctor provides.

She said that although there is a difference between in-person and virtual appointments, patients should still treat the virtual appointment as a regular visit when asking about possible follow-ups and any questions they may have.

“This is new territory for everyone,” he said. “We are all learning it and, at the end of the day, this is part of the healthcare system that we all must work to improve together.”