What Do I Need to Know Before a Telemedicine Appointment with My Surgeon?

With telemedicine visits, foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons can provide quality care while adhering to social distancing guidelines and minimizing your risk of exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients often find these appointments to be very convenient since they don’t require a drive to the office or time in the waiting room. Here are a few things that you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your telemedicine visit.


1. Set up your space.

Creating the right setup for your telemedicine appointment can foster clear communication between you and your surgeon. Think about things such as:

  • Noise: Find a quiet place to have your call so your surgeon can hear you clearly.

  • Lighting: A light in front of you will help illuminate your face for the call. Avoid sitting in front of a bright window; this creates a shadow and makes your face difficult to see on video.

  • Space: Give yourself enough room to move the phone, tablet, or computer to show your surgeon the parts of your foot or ankle that are hurting.

  • Technology: Make sure your phone, tablet, or computer is compatible with the program or platform your surgeon’s office is utilizing for telemedicine visits and that you have the proper app or access link prior to the visit. Some software requires you to agree to use telehealth and electronically sign consent forms. If possible, practice turning your camera on and unmuting your microphone to ensure your surgeon will be able to see and hear you.


2. Frame the problem.

The more specific you can be regarding your issue, the better your surgeon will be able to help. Think about details such as:

  • Where exactly is the pain?

  • How long has it been going on?

  • Is there any pattern to the problem? Does it get worse with increased activity?

  • How severe is your pain/problem? Is it bad enough that you would want to have surgery or are you hoping to try nonsurgical treatments first?


3. Gather the past history of the problem.

Has this problem been treated before by another surgeon, podiatrist, or primary care provider? Having a complete history of all past treatments is very helpful. Think about things such as:

  • What prior treatments have been attempted?

  • Did they help the problem or make it worse?

  • Has your pain or problem changed in nature since the other treatments were attempted?


4. Think about your goals.

Your goals for treatment can often help frame the conversation so that everyone is on the same page. Think about goals such as:

  • What is your primary goal? Is it pain relief? Getting rid of instability?

  • What are your goals for activity after treatment?


Taking the time to prepare for your telemedicine visit will ensure a good experience for you, and the best care for your foot or ankle problem. To find a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon in your area, use the FootCareMD "Find a Surgeon" search tool.

 

Written by Hui Zhang, MD

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images, and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find a Surgeon" search to locate a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon in your area.