Telemedicine: How to prepare
How to prepare for a telemedicine appointment
Consumer demand for virtual health care has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to telemedicine, patients with new concerns and those with chronic conditions can have an appointment with a board-certified physician from the comfort and safety of their homes.
To help patients get the most out of their telemedicine appointments, board-certified dermatologists recommend following these tips.
7 simple steps to prepare for your telemedicine appointment
To get the most from your telemedicine appointment, board-certified dermatologists offer these tips:
Contact your insurance provider to find out if your plan covers telemedicine appointments. Many insurance providers are updating their plans to cover telemedicine visits during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out what type of telemedicine visits are covered by your insurance.
Gather essential information. This is especially important if you have a telemedicine appointment with a dermatologist you haven’t seen before. Knowing your medical history will help your dermatologist make a diagnosis, decide treatment options, and prescribe medicine, if necessary. Ask your dermatologist’s office if they have any forms you need to fill out before your appointment.
Medications you take
Find out how to reach your dermatologist. Talk to your dermatologist’s office to make sure you know what type of telemedicine appointment you will have, and how your dermatologist will reach out to you. Ask when and how to send the pictures and information you gather.
For video visits, you will be sent a website link you can use to connect with your dermatologist at the time of your appointment.
Write down all your questions. Doing this helps you remember everything you plan to talk to your dermatologist about and make the most of your appointment.
Take pictures. To help your dermatologist examine your concern, take clear pictures of the areas you need examined. Follow these tips to make sure the pictures are the highest-possible quality:
Make sure your pictures are well-lit. Take your pictures in natural light, if possible. Use another light source, like a book light or flashlight, if needed. Make sure that there aren’t any shadows or glares on the area you are taking pictures of.
Avoid irritating your skin before your appointment. Try to avoid doing things that could change the appearance of your skin before you begin your telemedicine appointment or take your pictures. Some examples of things to avoid are taking a hot shower, rubbing or picking at your skin, or applying skin care products.
Find a private space. Find a quiet and private space without distractions to have your appointment. Make sure you can connect to the internet in that space and it has the best-possible lighting.
Major illnesses or surgeries you have had
Previous skin problems
When your current symptoms began
Illnesses that your family members have had, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes
For telephone visits, you may be given instructions on when to expect a call from your dermatologist.
Take multiple pictures, including one of each side of the area you need examined. Make sure to show the entire area around your spot or rash. If your spot is hard to see, you may want to circle it or draw an arrow pointing toward it with a marker.
Take pictures to compare. For example, if you have a spot on your hand, take pictures of both hands so your dermatologist can see how that area usually looks. Make sure you also take a close-up and a far-away picture of the areas you are concerned about so your dermatologist can compare.
Just like an in-person dermatologist appointment, do not wear makeup. If you need your nails examined, take off any nail polish you have on before taking any pictures.
Get help. If you live with someone, ask them to take pictures of hard-to-reach areas, such as your back. If you live alone, use a mirror to make sure you are taking pictures of the right spot.
If your picture turns out blurry, delete it and replace it with one that is clearer.
Doing these things before your telemedicine appointment begins will help you get the dermatologic care you need.
Infographic: Telemedicine visit tips
This infographic provides tips to help you prepare for a telemedicine visit with your dermatologist. Click the image below to download the infographic.
Learn more about what to expect after your appointment ends at, Telemedicine: Follow-up care.