By Above MS Contributors
As technology continues to change, your healthcare team may find new ways to provide you with the same level of care—even if you can’t meet them face-to-face. Consider using telehealth for your multiple sclerosis (MS) appointments and talking with your healthcare team screen-to-screen instead.
Telehealth, which is sometimes called telemedicine, uses technology to share medical information. This includes virtual health appointments. It uses video chat, mobile apps, secure messaging, or other forms of technology so you can talk to your healthcare team from the comfort of your own home.
Remember, telehealth appointments should not always replace in-person visits. You may have certain questions or concerns that are easier to explain, or show, to your healthcare provider face-to-face. Finding a balance between these types of appointments is an important part in getting the care you need.
Below, three Above MS contributors share their experiences using telehealth for their MS appointments. Read more about what it’s like to meet with your healthcare team virtually, and find tips on preparing for your online visit.
As a working mom with school-aged children, I find that telehealth is convenient and provides more flexibility when I’m scheduling an appointment. I don’t have to think about how long it will take me to get to my doctor’s office or if my children will need to miss school. These virtual appointments also remove the stress of having to travel, which may help others living with MS who have mobility issues. With telehealth, I can get the care I need and then get back to my busy day.
“It’s actually easier for me to live a more ‘normal’ life because I’m able to get care wherever I am. Telehealth allows me to multitask!”
I find that being organized helps make my appointments more successful. I like to set an alert on my phone, make sure my devices are fully charged, and prepare as if I were going to an in-person appointment. You may also find these details help you feel more comfortable when you’re preparing for a telehealth appointment.
When I had my telehealth appointment, I didn’t have to worry about travel time or what I was going to wear. Instead, I spent that time preparing a list of questions I wanted to ask.
“During the call, I was able to sit at my desk with my list of questions and have an uninterrupted conversation with my neurologist.”
If I have more questions during the call, I just make a note and ask my healthcare provider later on. I don’t always do this during in-person visits, but on the phone we have each other’s direct attention, which makes for a productive conversation.
Telehealth helped me get the conversation started with my healthcare team, but I think it’s important to find a balance with in-person visits. Talking face-to-face allows me to engage with my treatment plan more and continue conversations I started using telehealth. While I found telehealth appointments to be straightforward and easy to access, they were just the first step to getting the care I need.
Telehealth is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but there can be many benefits to using it if you are living with MS. For me, frequent visits to specialists can be time-consuming and tiring. When the day came for my appointment, I was glad that it was virtual.
“My time with my neurologist wasn’t rushed. It seemed longer and more personal than normal appointments.”
A telehealth appointment is a great option for me if I’m experiencing symptoms that I already talked to my healthcare team about. I like to call these “MS maintenance visits.” However, if I’m experiencing new or worsening symptoms, I think I would rather have an in-person exam.
If you’re like me, you’ll have a lot of questions before you start using telehealth, including:
Asking these questions helped me feel more prepared, especially when it came to my finances. In my experience, telehealth appointments are generally less expensive, but this may not be true for everyone. It’s important to check if your insurance will cover the appointment before you get started.
Once you figure out if telehealth is right for you, you should prepare for the virtual appointment just like you would for an in-person visit so you can get the answers you’re looking for.
Now that you’ve heard from our contributors, you may be feeling more comfortable using telehealth for your next appointment. Below are some tips to help you feel even more prepared:
Remember, your experience with MS may be different. While telehealth has many benefits, you should only use it if it’s something that you and your healthcare team are comfortable with. Please also keep in mind that telehealth is not always meant to replace an in-office visit.