Staying on Target With Telemedicine

The doctor’s office is the last place you want to be when you have a migraine.

Waiting rooms aren’t the most comfortable place to pass the time, especially if you feel nauseated or are bothered by sounds or light.  

And during a pandemic like COVID-19, in-person visits may not even be an option.

If you’re among the 39 million Americans who get migraines, telemedicine can be a smart choice. Though technology, you can stay on top of your care and avoid missing appointments -- all from the comfort of your home.

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine can take many forms, including emails, texts, phone calls, or one-on-one video chats with your doctor.

You could be able to schedule a telemedicine appointment more quickly than an in-office visit. And your doctor may offer expanded appointment hours for telemedicine visits.

During a telemedicine visit, your doctor might be able to give you a diagnosis and prescribe treatments. When you use it well, telemedicine can be as effective for migraines as an in-person visit.

Make the Most of Your Appointment

If you have a telemedicine appointment with your doctor, preparing ahead of time helps you make the most of your time. Here are some steps to take before your appointment.

Think through your goals. In the past, you might have planned out what you wanted to tell your doctor on the way to your appointment, or while you sat in the waiting room. Telemedicine moves more quickly. There’s no commute and no downtime while you wait.

Sit down at least 15 minutes before your appointment to outline your goals. Your doctor will have questions, but now’s the time to focus what you want to ask and what you want to say. Make a written list to make sure you cover everything. It might include things like:

  • Why you made this appointment
  • New symptoms you're having
  • Ongoing symptoms that you're still having
  • Prescription refills you need
  • Questions about test results
  • Questions about medications

Do a dry run. This is not the time for a technology fail. If your appointment is by phone, make sure your phone is charged, with backup nearby. Locate a strong signal if you’re using a smartphone.

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If it’s a video chat, set up in a well-lit area with good Wi-Fi. Make sure your computer is charged or plugged in. Test out any new programs or links your doctor sent in advance. Shut down any other programs that might pop up or cause your computer to run slowly.

If you’re not used to seeing yourself on a screen, practice via Skype or FaceTime with a friend first to get comfortable.

Think through distractions. Will your dog bark? Will your kids interrupt? Do you have photos or documents you want to share? Have everything ready to go so you don’t get sidetracked and waste time. Don’t forget pen and paper so you can take notes.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on July 16, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Association of Migraine Disorders: “Telemedicine for Migraine Patients.”

American Academy of Neurology: “For Headache, Telemedicine May Be As Effective As In-Person Visit.”

U.S. Pain Foundation: “Four Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Telemedicine Appointment.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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