Tips for Teens and Telehealth

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is receiving health care services by phone or video! It’s using technology to communicate with your health care provider. It’s like video chatting but with your doctor, nurse, or therapist.

Why are hospitals and clinics offering televists?

Telehealth has been around for years and many people were using it before the COVID-19 pandemic. But because we need to practice physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 , more and more health care providers are doing telehealth. It’s super easy and as a teen you are probably better at using technology than your doctors!

What kind of things can I do during a telehealth visit?

So many things! Think about all the things you talk about with your provider in a regular visits You can talk with your provider about COVID-19, symptoms like having a fever, feeling nauseous, even allergies. You can talk about feeling sad or feeling anxious. You can even talk to your doctor about sensitive things like your period, trouble with eating, or if you are worried you have an STD. Sometimes your concerns can be handled over the video or telephone call and medications can be sent to the pharmacy for you. Other times it’s a little more complicated and you need to go to the clinic to have a physical exam or get tests. Either way reaching out to your provider is a good start.

What is a televisit like?

You can call your provider and they will give you instructions for how to connect. A televisit is very similar to using video chat but it is also kind of different. It may feel weird to talk with your provider over video at first so here are some tips to not make it awkward.

Things are still confidential:

As a teen, what you discuss with your doctor is confidential, meaning it’s between you and the provider unless they are concerned you want to hurt yourself or someone else. In those cases, your provider will need to speak with your parents to get you help.

Pick a quiet place:

Calling while in the car or at a fast food restaurant is not a good idea. It’s better to be in a quiet well lit place like your room so you can talk with your provider without distractions. Some people do not have their own room, and in those cases, try the bathroom, the basement, and even outside your house or at the park.

Pick a safe place:

With the pandemic, you may be spending more time with your family (that may be a good or bad thing). Your parent may be involved for part of the visit if you are comfortable talking about your concern with your parent there. If not, you may want to pick a private place where no one else can hear what you are saying especially if it’s a sensitive topic.

Use headphones:

Headphones are another good way to keep what you are discussing between you and the doctor. Your doctor can ask you questions and you can answer by nodding your head yes or no, writing it down on pen and paper, or typing it out on a computer of tablet. Do what you need to do to get your message across.

Pretend like you are in the clinic:

It’s OK to wear pajamas, but make sure you have on enough clothes. If your hair is not done, feel free to comb it before the visit. We won’t judge you, but it might make you more comfortable.

You can’t show EVERYTHING on video:

If you have a rash or a bump somewhere that is not private (like your genitals) you can show it to your provider. No, you will not be asked to put your vagina on the screen. No you cannot send your provider a picture of your penis. These are things you will have to come in person to clinic for.

What other tips have you learned doing televisits with your providers?