Using Telemedicine – What Should I Expect?

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With the ongoing concerns regarding coronavirus (Covid-19), local lockdowns and recommendations for social distancing, the public are quickly having to adapt to new ways of supporting their day-to-day health issues.

Telehealth allows patients to receive services remotely, making it an ideal way to minimise in-person interactions.

Who needs Telehealth? 

While some families are seeking continuity services they were receiving previously, and work with their regular GP, some people are struggling to get an appointment. This has forced those people to turn to new online GP services, like Vala for their first engagement with Telehealth. 

How does Telehealth help my family social distance? 

For the foreseeable future, the normal GP clinics will only be able to treat a small number of patients in comparison to before lockdown, which makes it difficult to get an appointment. However, services like Vala don’t have the same restrictions because our care is done remotely, allowing our care professionals to serve many families without the risk of spreading germs, and without the waiting times.

How can Telehealth work to help you? 

The model we use is called real-time Telehealth or synchronous telemedicine.  This means that our health care provider and our members are speaking and interacting in real-time via audio or video communication.  

Here are some examples of how real-time Telehealth might be used: 

  • Your child is distressed because of a cough or cold, and you are all worried it might be COVID-19 coronavirus. The advice from the government is “order a test”, but tests are few and far between. You might be better off booking a one-off, on-demand appointment with an independent Vala doctor to assess your child’s symptoms. In some cases, our doctor will also be able to help you order a PCR test and have it sent straight to your home.
  • You are concerned about the health of your elderly parents. They have been isolating in their bubble for many months, and you would feel more comfortable if a health visit could be arranged. But getting them to a doctor, or getting a doctor to them is very difficult at the moment. Register a profile on Vala, and then add them to your profile as dependents. You will then be able to book an appointment for them. Our doctors can call them at the agreed appointment time, or they can interact with our doctors via video consultation if they feel confident with the technology.
  • You need to get a prescription renewed, but you can’t get to your doctor or your pharmacy. It’s urgent, and you don’t mind paying. Book an appointment with Vala, our doctors will discuss the condition, and in most cases be able to send a prescription directly to our pharmacy partner, who will be able to ship the medication directly to your home or work address.

Are there privacy concerns? 

You have the right to expect your health care providers to protect your privacy no matter what modality your services are provided through. Vala is a Telehealth software that has been specifically designed to be HIPAA compliant. As with any healthcare service you receive, if you have privacy concerns, discuss them with us so we can reassure you of our credentials. 

We keep our privacy policy up to date, so you can check in on how we use your data.

Vala is registered with the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) and adheres to the highest, ethical standards of data collection and usage.

What should I expect? How do I prepare?

The following are helpful in preparing to use our service:  

  • A strong Wi-Fi connection in your home or office
  • Find a space that minimises disruptions and keeps other ambient noise to a minimum. 
  • Use a device that will allow our doctor to interact with you in the best way possible.
  • Proper audio on your device. Consider a mix of using device audio and headphones. When our doctor is observing the session, the device audio will capture all of the interactions going on. When our doctor needs to speak, it may be best to use headphones for better sound quality and to reduce background noise. 
  • You may want to have a notepad handy in case our doctor gives you any tips or suggestions. However, please be aware that session notes will be uploaded, and emailed to you after the conclusion of the consultation.  

As with any healthcare, it’s essential to have excellent communication with the doctor to share how the model is working for you. A continuous open dialogue with our doctor about your experience allows them to troubleshoot with you, ultimately making sure that this is an effective way for your family to receive a healthcare service.  

Continuity of care is vital for both you and your family, especially during this time of general disruption in routine. Using Vala regularly not only provides consistency in routine, but it might also become a better routine for you in the future, even after the current lockdown situation is resolved. As they say in the media; This could be your new normal.

You can book your first appointment with our team today, and we can discuss all your options. If you use the code ‘futurenow’ on the booking form, you’ll get your first appointment with us for free, so you don’t need to commit to a long-term plan.

We also have this section of information about Family Health, that might give you some details about what to expect, and how we can help you.

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