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What is a video consultation?

You're used to talking to your friends through text, social media, email and video apps such as Skype, Facetime or Zoom. Now you can 'see' your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional using different digital technologies.

This new way of seeing your doctor and other health providers is part of keeping physical distance from each other as much as possible – something we need to be doing to help keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your first consultation may seem strange for both you and your health provider, that’s normal. As we do this more often everyone will start to feel more comfortable.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of video consults include:

  • being more personable than a phone call.

  • being able to 'see' your doctor, nurse, psychologist or specialist as though you are in the same room

  • you can still show us most rashes, any swelling, how fast your child is breathing and much more

  • it removes the risk of catching or spreading germs (such as COVID-19)

  • much quicker, easier and more convenient

  • saves you time, cost and effort travelling to an appointment 

  • you don't have to leave the house when you are feeling unwell.

Common questions about video and phone consultations

Do I need to pay?

Yes, video and phone consultations cost the same as in-patient visits as they still take the doctor or nurse's time (both before, during and after such as updating your notes, reviewing results and much more).

Will my information be secure and safe?

Yes, the video platform we use is secure and has been approved by our practice's Primary Health Organisation. We will keep your information secure and safe, and will treat the information you share with us in the same way as we normally do if you see us at the clinic.

What if I need a physical examination?

As we will not be able to examine you, sometimes we ask you to examine yourself. For example, you may be asked to feel your tummy for where it is sore. Sometimes it can help to have someone else you are comfortable with do this for you. This could be a family member, a friend or another health professional. 

What if I need my blood pressure, heart rate and temperature measured?

If you have your own equipment, you may be asked to take your own blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. Taking your own pulse (Heart Foundation website) can be quite easy. You can find it in your neck or in your wrist close to the base of your thumb and time it over one minute.

How should I prepare for my telehealth consult? 

  1. If you are having a scheduled appointment you are likely to be sent a link by email (sometimes by text). You will need to click on this link. Take care that the link is the one you were expecting from your healthcare professional. 

  2. Make sure you are in a comfortable and private place.

  3. It's best if have a hands-free device. If you have a smart phone, find a way to prop it up so that you can move about.

  4. Make sure that you have tested out your audio. You may need to have a set of earphones to hear well.

  5. You may want to have a family/whānau member or friend with you. That’s fine – just tell your doctor or nurse when you join that they are there.

  6. Write a list of what you want to talk about and have a pen and paper handy to write anything down if you need to.

  7. Have all of your medicines with you, either in a list or in the packaging.

  8. Make sure that there is no one else streaming information from linked-in devices while you are having your consult, eg, if someone is watching a video on the wi-fi network you are using, your video may be poor quality.

Will my hospital specialist appointment now be by video or phone call as well?

For the same reasons as above, DHB teams are also in the process of changing over to video or phone consultations. Some have been doing this for some time. Others will be setting this up as quickly as they can.

What do patients think about video consultations? Once people have had their first video consultation, most 'love' it. Most systems are simple to use (simply click on a link and the cloud-based platform will alert the nurse or doctor you are waiting. The advantages for patients are huge and can save you hours of travel and waiting time.

Read what Wellsford resident Richard Harris thought of his Waitemata DHB Clinic appointment by telehealth (Stuff article)

More FAQs about telehealth

For a comprehensive list of FAQs about telehealth, read more on the Health Navigator NZ website.

SOURCE: Content used with permission from Health Navigator NZ

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