Getting the most from a phone or video appointment

Many health professionals and services are now offering phone and video calls for your appointments. 

If you have Parkinson's and you’re new to phone or video appointments, this article gives tips and advice on how best to prepare for and get the most out of them.

Why phone and video? 

Phone and video appointments are now offered as standard because of social distancing. It means you can speak to your health professional from home without needing to travel to see them. 

Technology means that it’s now easier to connect this way. If you’ve arranged a video call it’s likely you’ll speak to a health professional through a platform similar to Skype or FaceTime. The NHS regularly uses Attend Anywhere (or 'Near Me' in some areas). Your service should send you instructions on how to download or use it. 

They’ve all been designed to be easy to use, and are safe and secure. 

How do I get started with a video appointment?

You’ll need:

  • a charged up computer, tablet or smartphone with a camera 
  • a quiet place where you feel comfortable discussing your health
  • a good internet connection

Before your appointment

Your health professional will email you or send you a letter with your appointment time and any information you need. They should let you know whether a phone or video call is most appropriate. Let them know if you’re not able to do a video call. 

To prepare for the appointment:

  • If they offer you a video call, make sure you have the correct app downloaded. Have a go at connecting and seeing how it works. 
  • Make a list of questions or issues you’d like to discuss. Try to make your questions as concise as possible - this will help you manage the time you have with them. 
  • Have a list ready of the medication you take. 
  • Find somewhere comfortable and quiet where you can talk. It’s best to make sure you can focus on the call and that you’re not disturbed. 
  • Make sure you’re ready by your phone or device when your appointment is due, so you’re not rushing to set everything up. 
  • If you’re on a video call, try to find a space that’s well-lit so you can both see each other properly. This will make it feel more like an everyday conversation. 
  • If your symptoms mean you find it difficult holding a mobile phone or tablet, place it on a fixed surface, or prop it up.
  • If you have a partner or carer and you’d like them to be involved, you can use the loud speaker function on your phone, or have them with you on the screen on the video call.

During the appointment

Even though it might feel unusual at first, try and treat a phone or video appointment just as you would a face-to-face appointment. 

  • The health professional may ask you to confirm your date of birth or address.
  • If you need to talk about or explain a visible symptom, you can try to use the screen to show them. 
  • During a video call if someone’s internet connection isn’t great, the screen might freeze or jump. This is normal, but if it happens a lot or disrupts the appointment then they might arrange to phone you instead. 
  • If you don’t understand or hear something properly, ask the person to repeat what they’ve said. 
  • A record of the conversation will be kept, but you may find it helpful to note down what is discussed. 

If you need a follow up appointment or prescription then they’ll discuss that with you then and give you the information you need. Ask them any questions before you end the conversation.

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