Preparing for a Telehealth Appointment: What to Know
For many people, telehealth appointments make your routine diabetes check-ups easier to fit into your schedule, but it’s still a different experience than actually visiting your doctor’s office. While telehealth appointments have helped you stay in touch with your healthcare team during the pandemic, they can make some aspects of diabetes care and blood sugar management trickier.
Let’s take a look at how to make the most of your next telehealth appointment.
Schedule to visit the lab for a blood draw the week before your telehealth appointment.
If you’re used to getting your A1c (or “HbA1c”) via the in-office rapid test, you’ll have to improvise for a telehealth appointment. Even though you aren’t seeing your doctor in person, it’s very important to ask your healthcare team about getting bloodwork done before your appointment. Most likely, they’ll send in an order for lab work to the nearest blood draw location.
Many labs have shifted from being a “walk-in” when it suits your schedule to having every patient call and schedule a specific time. Regardless, the results can take a day or three, so try to get into the lab during the week before your appointment to ensure you get the results back in time.
Make sure you have everything you need for the logistics of your telehealth appointment.
Making your health a priority throughout day-to-day life is challenging enough, now you’re being asked to make chatting with your healthcare team a priority while you’re actually still in your day-to-day life.
Your telehealth appointment needs your full attention, so it’s important to make sure you have the following set-up and ready to go:
- A quiet and private space: Whether it’s during the work day or you put on a movie to keep the kids distracted, make this time a priority for you.
- Good lighting so your doctor can see you well: Remember they’re used to being able to see you up close, in real life.
- A reliable internet connection: You may need to be at a friend’s or at work if your internet at home isn’t sufficient.
- Download the program you’re using: When it’s Zoom or something similar, make sure your healthcare team has given you all of the links, passwords, etc. that you’ll need to actually access your telehealth appointment. Make sure you have it on either your phone or your computer—whichever you’ll be using when the time comes. And test those programs or links well before your actual appointment!
Know all your numbers before your telehealth appointment.
Your A1c isn’t the only number you need to keep tabs on as a person with diabetes. People with diabetes should have annual lab work also done for your:
- Fasting blood sugar levels (before you eat breakfast)
- Lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Microalbumin (tested via urine, to assess your kidney function)
- Blood pressure levels
This means you may need to provide a urine sample when you head in for your other lab work.
If you don’t have an at-home blood pressure monitor, it may be time to get one with your provider’s help, or ask for your blood pressure to be taken when you’re visiting the lab for blood work.
Having all of these numbers ready for discussion at your telehealth appointment means making sure nothing goes overlooked.
Review your medication doses and prescriptions before your telehealth appointment.
Trying to remember all of your medication doses and which prescriptions might be up for renewal during your appointment can be a little cumbersome.
When you’re already juggling trying to find a private space at your office or keeping the kids quiet during your appointment, the last thing you need is to remember the entire list of medications you’re taking.
This is also your chance to discuss any medications that aren’t working well for you or concerns about doses. Write down every medication and concern to be sure nothing is forgotten during the appointment.
Prepare a list of questions or concerns you have before your telehealth appointment.
Meeting with your doctor over the internet can make the appointment feel less official or less personal than meeting in person. But this is your healthcare appointment, so make sure to use the most of it.
If you have any new concerns or questions about your health, don’t put it off until the next time you meet in person.
This atmosphere might make you feel like you need to rush through the appointment or skip over the more personal issues. Don’t!
Prepare a list of questions or concerns so you can discuss these things with your doctor just as you would if you were meeting in person. Take your time and get the care you need! This is your opportunity to have in-depth conversations with your healthcare team—use it.
This content was made possible with support from Lilly Diabetes. Beyond Type 1 maintains full editorial control of all content published on our platforms.