4-minute read

Patient having a virtual appointment

The Doctor Will See You Now: Making the Most of Your Next Virtual Visit


Our lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with technology, and health care is leading the charge in many ways. The internet has enabled us to access health care, health education, and health information instantaneously and across vast distances. Altogether, these technologies are known as telehealth.1 For many people, the biggest contribution of telehealth comes in the form of virtual doctor's visits.

Virtual doctor's visits allow people to connect with health care professionals (HCPs) from their own homes. It is also an option for people who live too far away to see their physician in person.1 As the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated new safety precautions for at-risk individuals, many doctors' offices adopted virtual visits as a means to see their patients, ushering in a new era of health care.2

As with any technological revolution, the benefits of telehealth have been accompanied by some disruptions to how we normally go about our business. Read on for tips on how to improve your telehealth experience.

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Going virtual. Staying real.

Telehealth Image

For anyone old enough to remember the internet in the days of dial-up modems, it's astonishing to think of how far the technology has come. To be able to videoconference with someone across town or across the country in real time is truly a miracle of modern science. It's like living in the future—today.

However, it's fair to acknowledge that something can be lost in the experience. From technological difficulties to the limitations of not being in the same room as your health care provider, it's possible for the human connection to be lost along the way. With a little planning, you can be better prepared to make the most of your virtual office visits.

Set up for success

Before starting a virtual office visit, it's a good idea to prepare in advance to ensure everything is in working order.3

  • Set up your computer (or smart phone or tablet) in a quiet place, free from distractions.
  • Plug your device into a power source. Do not rely on battery power.
  • If possible, choose a wired internet connection rather than WIFI. Closing unnecessary programs can also help reduce the load on your available bandwidth.
  • Your video call may be accessed via a telehealth app or portal. Make sure you have the necessary login information in advance.
  • Check the lighting and position the camera at eye level so you appear clearly onscreen. A bright light behind you, such as from a window, can make your image too dark to see.
  • Test the camera, microphone, and speakers in advance. You may need to go into the video app’s settings to make some adjustments.

Let's turn our attention to the call itself. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your time. Many of these best practices apply whether the visit is virtual or in person.

  • Be ready a few minutes early. You may need a little time to work out some of the technical challenges mentioned above.
  • Review any information your physician may have provided prior to the call.
  • Have any relevant medical information on hand in case you need to reference it during the call.4
  • Prepare a list of questions or concerns for your doctor in advance. If your concerns are not addressed, speak up before the end of the visit.4
  • Stay engaged. Computers have a way of distracting us, so take a break from multitasking and be present the entire time.4
  • Take notes. If you need a little time to capture the information your doctor tells you, feel free to speak up.4
  • If you have special needs that may affect your ability to participate in a virtual office visit, coordinate with your health care provider ahead of time to make the necessary arrangements.4
  • Just as with in-person office visits, some people may want to have a loved one or caretaker be with them for support and to be a second set of ears.


Virtual doctor's visits are revolutionizing how we connect with our health care team. Amid the ongoing global pandemic, they provide an alternative to meeting in person, and the technology enables us to shorten the distance between patients and their physicians. With a few simple steps, anyone can be prepared to make the most of their next virtual office visit.

References References:
  1. NEJM Catal Innov Care Deliv. What is telehealth? [Published online, February 1, 2018; brief article.] Accessed October 6, 2021. https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.18.0268
  2. Persad G. How telemedicine is impacting oncology care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ASCO Post: Issues in Oncology. Published online October 25, 2020. Accessed November 3, 2021.
  3. Iafolla T. 15 Physician tips for a better telemedicine visit. Published online August 18, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://blog.evisit.com/virtual-care-blog/15-physician-tips-better-telemedicine-visit
  4. Health Resources & Services Administration: Telehealth. Preparing for a virtual visit. Updated January 12, 2022. Accessed February 11, 2022. https://telehealth.hhs.gov/patients/preparing-for-a-video-visit