When you’re feeling sick, one of the last things you want to do is to spend time driving to the doctor and waiting for an appointment. If you’ve never had a doctor visit over video before, you may wonder how it differs from an in-person appointment.
Below are some of the ways you can prepare for your video visit and how your doctor can diagnose your cold and flu symptoms over video.
What can I do to prepare for a video appointment?
Before you start your visit, it may be helpful to take your temperature with a thermometer at home. If you have other devices like a heart rate monitor or a blood pressure cuff, having this information handy will aid your doctor in understanding your symptoms.
Keep a list of the medications you are currently taking so your doctor understands any possible reactions that may occur should you be prescribed additional medication.
Be prepared to share and describe the symptoms you are feeling like a sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, fatigue, appetite and fluid intake. You may also be asked if you’ve had any exposure to others with similar symptoms or anyone who tested positive for influenza virus.
If you have a rash, taking a photo and sending it over during the visit can also help your physician with a diagnosis.
How is this exam similar to the care a patient would receive from an in-person visit?
Whether you see a doctor in person or over video, the questions from the doctor will likely be the same. Often times doctors are able to diagnose the cold or the flu just from talking to the patient about their symptoms and medical history.
How does the doctor examine a patient for common cold and flu symptoms?
Unlike an in-person visit, you may be asked by your doctor to take certain readings yourself. For example, they may ask you to check your pulse. You can check your pulse with your two fingers placed on the side of your neck or wrist, or you can use a heart-rate monitor like a wristwatch device. You can also use a blood pressure cuff if it is available.
Your doctor is able to see the back of your throat, your nose and your eyes over video. They can also instruct you on how to position your device for the best view.
You could also be asked to apply pressure to your cheeks and forehead to check for sinus tenderness. They may instruct you to bend your head forward to check for increased pressure in the face or sinuses. In addition, they may ask you to use your fingers to press over the sides or front of the your neck to check for tenderness or swelling of lymph nodes, and check your skin for rash.
What are the advantages of seeing a doctor by video?
There are a lot of advantages of seeing a doctor over video for your cold and flu symptoms. Having an appointment over video is very convenient. You can call from work or home, when traveling, and you don’t necessarily need to find childcare or bring your children to the waiting room.
If you’re feeling incredibly fatigued or sick and can barely get out of bed, a video visit means you don’t have to leave your house. You can take a call from your bed, and you also avoid exposure to other people in the waiting room.
If you live in a remote area where a clinic is far away, you can get the help you need when bad weather makes it dangerous to leave the house to travel.
While a video visit might seem intimidating and sound like a very different experience, it is actually very similar to seeing a doctor in person. Best of all, you can get the help and guidance you need when you’re feeling under the weather without leaving the comfort of home.
About the author
Debra A. Alspector, MD, is a family physician with 15 years of primary care experience, who provides comprehensive preventive medicine and patient-centered care, with a special interest in integrative and holistic medicine and optimal wellness. Dr. Alspector attended medical school at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and completed her three-year Family Medicine Residency Program at University of California in San Francisco. Dr. Alspector has run a solo private practice, worked at community health centers, and traveled to various rural and urban clinics.