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How to Have a Better Virtual Healthcare Visit

A telemedicine expert offers tips for a successful online visit with a doctor.

Telemedicine — the ability to hold a virtual healthcare visit with a doctor through your computer, tablet, or smartphone — has become an essential tool as people across the country are encouraged to stay home. It not only helps people stay connected to their medical providers, but it also helps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“During a public health crisis, telemedicine is optimal,” says Dr. Rahul Sharma, emergency physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “You’re minimizing disease spread, eliminating unnecessary hospital visits, and freeing up resources to best serve those who are in critical need.”

Through NewYork-Presbyterian’s telemedicine platforms, patients can simultaneously support social distancing and safely seek care for themselves and their families. Over the past two months, usage of these services has skyrocketed, says Dr. Sharma. In some specialties, such as neurology, psychiatry and dermatology, the percentage of patients being seen through video visits more than doubled from March to April, and patients can virtually meet with providers in more than 80 specialties, ranging from primary care to ophthalmology to obstetrics.

Here, Dr. Sharma offers tips for a successful virtual healthcare visit.

“Doctors are able to provide high-quality healthcare through telemedicine platforms,” says Dr. Sharma, adding that you don’t have to take off the entire day or block off hours of your schedule to go see your doctor. “I think this is going to be the way we increasingly meet with patients as they get to be more comfortable with it, and telemedicine is going to be a routine part of healthcare.”

Rahul Sharma, M.D., is emergency physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. He is a national leader in the fields of emergency medicine, healthcare operations, telemedicine and virtual healthcare, and in 2019 was named a Top 25 Innovator in the healthcare industry by Modern Healthcare magazine.

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