Are you – ”well informed about or proficient in the use of modern technology, especially computers” – if you are, you are “tech-savvy”! Many of us have become a bit tech-savvy by using Face Time, What’s App, Skype or Zoom to keep in touch with friends and family. But some have been left behind because it all seems a bit bewildering.
The NHS has replaced some of their face to face medical appointments with telephone or on line consultations, so now is a good time to start putting that right. If you feel hesitant, here are a few tips:
- Get used to using your equipment. It really helps to orientate yourself to whatever device you are going to use.
- Find someone in your support bubble to help you access the appointment link.
- Consider setting up “remote access”. This is where someone you trust can access your computer and as if by magic you will see them clicking on the links and setting you up for your session.
- Practice using your mouse and keyboard if you haven’t used them for a while. Have your glasses ready too as the clinician can type questions or share a screen so that you can look at documents.
- Don’t feel embarrassed to tell them that you have difficulty hearing at the beginning of your appointment so that the clinician can use the chat button to type out things you haven’t heard clearly.
- Think about where you are going to be for your online appointment. I have found that when people are sitting in their cars or even in Tesco’s it has been almost impossible to have a successful consultation.
Think about how well your clinician can see you
- It is really helpful to get the best picture possible so that the clinician can see your face clearly. This may sound silly but visibility on the screen can be improved if you make sure the lighting is good. Avoid sitting with your back to a light source such as a window. It is a shame to shut the sun out but in some cases closing the curtains will make a big difference. If possible try and have the light coming from behind your computer screen.
- Make sure that the room is quiet and other people in the house know you’re having an online appointment – we’ve all heard of those embarrassing stories where people unknowingly wander across the back of the screen…for me my favourite was Charles Saatchi.
- Experiment with the position of the camera. If you are using a laptop that will mean experimenting with the angle of the lid if that is where you camera is. If you are using a phone or tablet it is often best not to hold it so experiment where you will prop it up and what gives you the best angle so that the clinician can see you clearly. You don’t need to buy a stand as books, tissue boxes, shelves, recipe and music stands can all work well. If you are using a phone practice switching the camera so that the clinician can see you and not your living room!
What your helper may need to help you with.
- Set up your other equipment beforehand. Check your wireless or 4G signal, if it is poor, plug your device directly into your router if you can.
- Know which NHS system will be used for your consultation – it could be “Zoom”, “Microsoft Teams” or “Attend Anywhere”.
- When you are sent the link for your appointment save it somewhere safe. It generally will be sent as a” hyperlink”. Clicking on a hyperlink mostly works every time but practicing copying and pasting links in the correct place is a good idea, just in case.
- Your link to an Attend Anywhere appointment will be the same for every session but will vary from department to department so try to avoid mixing them up.
- If when you get an appointment for a virtual clinic you feel overwhelmed with the technology please email or ring the contact number provided.
- Some services offer you a chance to practice so that you can feel more confident when you have your appointment. I have been using Attend Anywhere at work for many months and was involved in the NHS pilot project that had started before the COVID 19 pandemic and most patients manage very well.
Confidentiality Security and Safety
As with all appointments please remember to ask the clinician’s permission if you want to record any part of the session.
Make sure that you really do trust the person and set up the system so it is password protected so they are unable to access your computer without your permission. I’ve had quite a few examples where people have had support from family members (grandchildren are a favourite), friends and church members.
And finally if you feel unable to talk freely in your online session because you feel you are being overheard, subject to coercive control or are frightened of domestic violence please telephone the police if you feel you are in immediate danger.
If you are not in a life threatening situation try to let your clinician know or contact: National Domestic Abuse Hotline Freephone: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)