How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Doctor Visit for Psoriasis
Whether you use your smartphone, your tablet, a laptop, or your desktop computer, a live virtual chat with your doctor can be a great way to make sure you’re staying on top of your psoriasis. In most cases, these telehealth visits are conducted over video. The interactive technology allows your doctor the chance to see you, not just talk to you, and evaluate your skin. That gives your doctor the critical information they need to assess your situation and determine any changes you might need to make in your treatment. Like with any new technology, there can be a learning curve–and some nerves–when it comes to your first telehealth appointment. But if you know how to prepare and what to expect, you’ll reap the most benefit from your virtual visit.
Learn how to use the technology.
If you’ve never made a telehealth appointment before, it may take some practice before you feel comfortable. This may be a whole new experience for you, and that’s okay. Many dermatology practices will be happy to talk to you before your appointment to make sure you’re prepared–and that you know how to use the technology.
One key factor to address in advance: which platform will you need to use for your telehealth appointment? Some practices use Zoom or Google DUO, but your dermatologist may prefer to use any of the numerous other telemedicine tools out there. Find out which one your doctor uses so you can prepare. Some may require you to download an app to your smart phone, ipad, or computer, so you’ll want to make time to do that in advance of your appointment. When you install the app, make sure to give the app access to your microphone and camera–that’s how you and your dermatologist will be able to communicate with each other. If you use an app like Google DUO on your smartphone, you’ll also have to verify your phone number. Many apps also strongly encourage you to enable push notifications so you’ll get an alert about your upcoming appointment.
Whatever the requirements to use the technology, you’ll want to address them in advance, so you don’t inadvertently miss your telehealth appointment when the time comes.
Carve out a quiet place for your visit.
It’s all too easy to let your home life intrude upon your virtual doctor visit. But even a quick appearance by your child or your dog can be a distraction for both you and your doctor. Find a quiet space in your home, preferably with a door that closes, where you can focus all your attention during the telehealth visit. Keep these factors in mind:
- Make sure you have access to a good internet connection so your telehealth visit doesn’t get interrupted.
- Make sure the room is well-lit so the doctor can see you and your skin. It will be hard for your dermatologist to assess the status of your psoriasis if the room is too dark or if there is a glare on the screen.
- Plan to log into your appointment a few minutes early, just in case you have any connectivity problems that you need to straighten out.
Be prepared to discuss your concerns.
Chances are, you and your dermatologist always have a few things to talk about during a regular in-person appointment. You may have questions about new plaques, or you may want to discuss a new treatment for your psoriasis. There’s no reason to treat this appointment any differently. Just like any other doctor’s appointment, you will have a finite amount of time to spend with your doctor. It can be helpful to prepare in advance so you can both jump right in and get started. You don’t want to run out of time before getting all your concerns addressed.
Try these tips for preparing:
- Write down any questions you have for your dermatologist.
- Keep a list of all the medications you’re taking nearby.
- Wash off any makeup and remove nail polish if those cosmetics cover up any evidence of your psoriasis.
- Avoid irritating your skin, so nothing will obscure your doctor’s ability to see how your psoriasis is behaving.
Focus during the visit.
When the time for your virtual visit arrives, click on the link or log in through the app. Treat this visit the way you would treat any other appointment with your dermatologist. Ask your questions and express your concerns. Don’t be afraid to speak up just because you’re not sitting in the exam room with your doctor. Keep pen and paper handy for notes because, unlike face-to-face clinic visits, you won’t be provided 10 pages of information at the conclusion of your visit. Try to stay focused, so you can make the most of the encounter. And when the visit wraps up, ask your dermatologist how to proceed. You might be able to go ahead and schedule another telehealth visit for next time.