Because of COVID-19, if you have to go to the doctor, you no longer *actually* go to the doctor. Sounds awkward, and well, yeah. But, in some cases, I would actually like for these to keep being a thing. Here's what you should know. 

Over the weekend, I kept breaking out in hives, but I'll spare you the deets of my rash and get down to what it was like to have a 'telehealth' appointment for the first time.

1) Contact your doctor and get set up. I called my primary care physician, and set a date and time to speak with my doctor. They asked for my email address, and sent me the information I needed to get started.

2) Download the app (if applicable). I go to a Banner clinic, but I assume most physicians are operating similarly during this time. To use my smart phone (although your computer is an option if you have a web cam), I needed to download a free telehealth app to basically set up a 'FaceTime' with my doctor. I granted access to my mic and camera, and it was all fairly straightforward considering how many Microsoft Teams calls and Zoom 'happy hours' I have been a part of in the last month.

3) You will be notified when your doctor is ready to see you, and you join a video chat. Those recent video chats have made video calling my doctor a lot less awkward than I think it would have been a few weeks ago. Actually, it was really simple. There was no going to a doctor's office (which I hate because I am kind of a germaphobe), there was no sitting in a waiting room, etc. It was just me, instantly connected to my doctor... and I didn't even have to touch a pen or read a two-year-old fitness magazine.

4) Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. OK, so I understand that talking to a doctor about hives isn't really that uncomfortable. If it had been a more personal issue, I think I would have preferred an in-person consult or, of course, if I had needed to be physically examined or weighed, etc. But for a minor issue like hives, it was really smooth. My doctor gave me her assessment and within 15 minutes the appointment was over.

5) Get your summary. My doctor emailed me a summary of my visit along with a prescription. Boom. Done.

Coming out of this, I would say going forward, even after offices reopen, it would be advantageous to do virtual appointments for minor stuff, and reserve actually going to the doctor for those more uncomfortable things, or those that require an actual physical exam.

If you know how to use video chat and are comfortable with technology, your virtual visit should be pretty breezy, timely and pain-free (well, the appointment, at least).