After my primary care physician cancelled my appointment in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not sure about meeting again. I had not been sick, and this was just a routine checkup. Things have been up and down and every day something new happens with this virus. So, I decided to wait patiently, eat well, rest, exercise, and make sure that I had my refills to all my medications.
However, a couple of weeks later, my doctor called to reschedule that appointment with a telemedicine option. Instead of meeting in person, we would chat through Zoom videoconferencing. I have been using Zoom since last year, but my usage has really ramped up with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a great tool for those of us in the blind and visually impaired community because we can easily connect with each other without the stresses of transportation. The Zoom platform is also very accessible with our adaptive technology we to use on our computers, smartphones and tablets. I have taken tutorials for usage as a blind person with Freedom Scientific and John Mosend to learn Zoom better. So, when my doctor’s office offered a telemedicine appointment, I had no problems. Once I was rescheduled, an email with the Zoom web link was sent to me. I was given instructions to be available to talk to the nurse prior to the appointment time so she could get my vitals.
On the day of the appointment, the nurse called me. While on the phone, I gave her my temperature and blood pressure reading. I used a talking thermometer and a blood pressure monitor to perform these readings. I also gave her my height and weight, which I had taken earlier on my talking bath scale. After giving her that information, I moved to my laptop and clicked on the link from the email to the Zoom meeting, making sure that both audio and video options were turned on. I had also taken time earlier that morning to double check my appearance and the room I was sitting in since my doctor would see me and the room in the camera.
Once my doctor got on the call, the nurse disconnected from the call and we began the appointment. She asked general questions as she would in a face-to-face visit. But she also asked me about my mental health. I was not surprised and actually expected it. With all that is happening with COVID-19, sheltering in place, and practicing social distancing, it can be easy to feel lonely, sad, and depressed. I shared with her how I was doing, including my eating and sleeping habits, and that I was exercising regularly. I even shared about the Zoom workout classes I was taking and how they were a nice change of pace for me. She asked some more questions and then double checked all my medications and vitamins. Shortly after that we got off the call.
Overall, I felt the telemedicine call went very well and I wouldn’t mind doing most of my medical appointments this way. People are now asking, “When will things go back to normal?” “How will things look after we stop sheltering in place and practicing social distancing?” In some ways, I believe things will return to business as usual, but, in other ways, I think it won’t. Going through a health pandemic has shown us that there is a lot of room for different ideas and positive changes in our society. I think using Zoom for telemedicine appointments is one of the positives. It connects you to your medical provider without having to worry about transportation and what that entails, as I written about in the past. Also, CMS has recently changed their regulations to allow telehealth visits, at least through this health crisis.