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5 ways to get the most from your telehealth doctor

06 Jun 2023

Before you pick up your phone to speak to a telehealth doctor, read our top tips to help your consultation go smoothly.

While telehealth may have become popular out of necessity during the early days of the pandemic, there’s no doubt it’s here to stay. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 30% of people had a telehealth consultation between 2021 and 2022. Most of these consultations were with GPs and the rest with specialists – and of the people who had telehealth consultations during that time, 85.4% reported they would use it again.

Why consult with a telehealth doctor?

Telehealth can’t replace in-person healthcare, but it can be a convenient substitute for routine or urgent matters like renewing a prescription, getting a medical certificate or requesting a referral when you can’t get to see a doctor in person. Telehealth also has broader benefits for the community as it reduces the spread of illness by allowing people who are unwell to stay at home. It also provides better access to a variety of healthcare services for people in remote areas, and Australians living with a disability who may otherwise find it difficult or uncomfortable, to visit a doctor in person.

Getting ready for your telehealth appointment

Our Sage telehealth doctors are all practicing GPs who are trained and experienced providing remote medical care. But it’s important to understand that with telehealth, the quality of care you receive depends a great deal on the quality of information the doctor has about your health.

Here are a few things you can do to help make sure your telehealth doctor has everything they need to give you the most appropriate advice and treatment.

1. Understand what your telehealth doctor can and can’t do.

Telehealth is convenient for many things, but not every health issue or concern can (or should) be treated remotely. Telehealth can be a good option if you want to:

  • Renew a regular prescription quickly and conveniently
  • Request a medical certificate for school or work
  • Request a blood test or specialist referral for a routine or straightforward matter
  • Speak to a doctor for advice on an ongoing health condition
  • Get advice for a health concern that doesn’t require a physical or visual examination.

If you have a more complex matter and/or you need a physical examination you will need to see a doctor in person. During your telehealth consultation, your doctor may determine that you need to get further testing or a physical examination. If this happens, they will refer you to an appropriate specialist, pathology centre or medical centre in your area.

2. Find a quiet place for your telehealth appointment

It’s important you’re not disturbed during your consultation. Noise and other distractions could make it difficult for you to hear your doctor and for your doctor to hear you.

Before your doctor calls, make sure you find a quiet spot, free from distractions and noise so you can focus on the conversation. It’s also important to keep in mind you will be discussing sensitive health information, so make sure you’re somewhere private, where you’re not likely to be overheard.

3. Make sure your phone is charged and not set to silent

Telehealth relies on technology to work so make sure you’re aware of the requirements and have everything ready to go before your consultation.

While some telehealth platforms require you to download and install special software, at Our Sage all you need is a phone. There are no specific software or technology requirements, but we do recommend you download our app to access your prescriptions, referrals and medical certificates after your consultation.

4. Gather your health information, and write down any questions

You only have a limited time for your telehealth consultation – and it’s better to spend it talking about your health than searching for test results or trying to remember the name of your medication.

Spend some time thinking about what information your telehealth doctor might need and keep it beside you during the appointment. This may include:

  • name and dosage of your current medications
  • results from any recent pathology or radiology tests
  • your height and weight
  • whether you are or might be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • any allergies
  • questions or concerns you want to discuss
  • list of symptoms, including times and dates when they started
  • name and contact details of a specialist you would like to be referred to
  • existing prescription if you need a prescription renewal
  • employer or school details if you’re requesting a medical certificate

5. Be prepared for follow-up instructions

It’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy beside the phone so you can write down any instructions from your telehealth doctor and the details of any follow-up steps required.

Depending on the reason for your consultation, you may need to have another telehealth consultation, tests or a referral to an in-person GP or specialist. Ask the GP about any follow up if you are unsure.

If you’re using Our Sage and you’ve requested a referral, medical certificate or online prescription, this will be available through the Our Sage app after your appointment.

While virtual healthcare can’t surpass the quality of in person care, these tips will help you get the best possible outcome from your telehealth appointment.

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