Telemedicine During the Coronavirus Pandemic – What is it and how do you prepare?

Do you need help getting your computer or tablet or phone set up for “Telemedicine”???

Do you want to find out more about it???

Don’t feel alone, there is going to be a huge rush for technical support  as people try to get ramped up on this technology.

As many of you have undoubtedly heard, many doctors and medical offices are switching to “Telemedicine” since patients either cannot or should not visit their health care provider’s office.  Just recently, I received a call from my pain management doctor that their entire office is switching to Telemedicine, and that I should call for instructions on how to “set up access to the telemedicine tool”.  Can you imagine ALL of the patients that are calling for instructions, how can the office POSSIBLY assist all of these people!  It is an Information Technology (IT) quagmire.

President Trump has recently announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage, which will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.  Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare –administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries resident across the entire country.  A range of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be able to receive telehealth services in any healthcare facility including a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home or rural health clinic, as well as from their homes.

This means that there will be a HUGE number of providers rushing to bring EVERYBODY up to speed on the telemedicine technology.

So what is telemedicine and how do you use it?

Very simply, telemedicine is simply allowing patient and healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, and clinician) to communicate over an online “video chat” or “web meeting”.  A software application platform (a tool) is required to facilitate this communication.  A software tool that provides two way video and audio capability over the internet.  So you can “see” and “hear” your healthcare provider, and they can “see” and “hear” you.  They can see your symptoms, and also hear you describe your problems.  It is the next best thing to “being there”.  Many businesses have been using “web meetings” for quite some time, as workers work from home, and company resources are spread around the globe.  The simplest online video chat tools that you might recognize are Skype and Facetime.  Web Meetings are based on the same technology, but also allow additional capability.  Most of us are familiar with video chat, but not necessarily with Web Meetings.

Your doctor/practitioner may already be set up with an application that allows this video exchange over the internet.  But many offices will be scrambling to set something up quickly as the COVID-19 threat continues.  Just some of the applications that may be used for some providers are:

Video Chat:

Skype

Facetime

Web Meetings:

Google Hangouts

Zoom

GoToMeeting

Webex

JoinMe

Your healthcare provider’s office will undoubtedly call you with instructions on how to access the web meeting application that they are using.  It may be VERY CONFUSING to some of you, so it’s best if you prepare ahead of time and at least know the terminology, and how to get set up for using the technology.

What do you need to get set up?

I will try my best to give you instructions on how to get set up.  Of course, if you need help or further instruction, you can just give me a call or send me an email, and I will personally help you.

Janet Schaper : Geek-ette

(408) 489-2638

janetschaper@gmail.com

What do YOU need?

1)      Hardware: A computer (Apple Mac or PC), a Tablet (iPad, Samsung) or a smart phone (iPhone, Samsung, etc.)  . Obviously a laptop or a tablet is preferable to a phone, as the screen size on a phone is really too small.  But if that’s all you have, then that’s all you have.  A “desktop” computer is “ok”, as long as you have both speakers (or headphones) and a “video camera”.  Most desktop computers come with NEITHER of these peripherals; you must purchase them separately and set them up.

2)      Your machine Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone must have an internet “Browser” installed.  What are the browsers that you would be most likely to use:

a. Apple products: Either Safari or Chrome

b. PC & Android devices: Chrome, Edge, Firefox

3)      Access to the internet (connection to Wi-Fi)

4)      The same software Application that your healthcare provider is using (e.g Skype or Zoom or Webex or Facetime).

5)      Getting the softwareApplication!!!

a. Skype and Facetime Apps usually come installed on your computer/tablet, depending on whether you have Apple or Microsoft Windows/Android.  If it is NOT installed, you can get it from the Apple Store (Facetime) or from the Microsoft Store (Windows 10).  If you are running Windows 7, you will need to go to the Skype website to download it (skype.com).

b. If your healthcare provider is using a web meeting application like Zoom or Webex or GoToMeeting or JoinMe, then they will give you a “website address” link in an email or text.  They may have access also directly from their website, in which case they will direct you there and have you “check-in”.  This may be BEFORE your actual appointment (so that you can pre-download the application) or SHORTLY BEFORE your appointment.  When you click on the link, it will take you to a website that will then ask your permission to download the “application” to your computer/device.  You need this application in order to join the meeting with your healthcare provider.

c.  Once the software app is downloaded, you will then be able to test your microphone and speakers to make sure they are working properly.  All of the mentioned applications provide “test conditions” to allow you to make sure your devices are all working properly.

d.  You are then ready for your appointment; your healthcare provider will join the web meeting on THEIR side, at your appointment time.

If you have ANY questions at all about getting set up, please give me a call or send me an email for help.  If you are financially challenged at this time, I will help you at either no charge, or at a very reduced rate.

Let’s make sure we are all ready for Telemedicine!!!

If you have a question about an issue that you are having, and aren’t sure that I can help, send me a message or call me, and we can discuss.

Call for an Appointment

(408) 489-2638

Or use form below to send a message (preferred)

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