You’re in luck — technology offers the opportunity to see your doctor without leaving your bed.
You’ve heard the saying, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Well, today’s luck is living in the age where you can access healthcare in new ways — like telemedicine. Many people living with psoriatic arthritis may benefit greatly from telemedicine and remote care. However, they may also be intimidated to try it.
Living with an autoimmune disease can make it more challenging and possibly dangerous to be in a waiting room with other sick patients. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic (before vaccines), being able to meet with your doctor virtually was a literal life saver for many.
Plus, physically getting to the doctor’s office with psoriatic arthritis when you’re in a flare can be literally painful. There’s no need to exacerbate these sensations by sitting in your car in traffic, climbing stairs, or sitting for many hours in an uncomfortable waiting room. Most of your symptoms can be discussed without being in the exam room.
Ask your doctor if they offer telemedicine appointments. If they don’t, they might be able to give you a referral to a psoriatic arthritis healthcare provider or rheumatologist who does.
How do you prepare for your telemedicine appointment?
Either way, if you are seeing a healthcare provider in person or by video conferencing, doctors’ schedules these days don’t often leave more than 30 minutes per patient. That’s where preparation comes in.
“If one has not done telemedicine visits before, or if they're not very tech savvy, it could seem like a daunting task,” says Saakshi Khattri, MD, Rheumatologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “So it's always good to prep beforehand.”
Here’s what you should have on hand:
- Your photo and insurance IDs — you might need to upload a copy into your patient portal.
- A list of medications you are taking, so your doctor can be aware of any possible interactions.
- Questions for your doctor: It’s hard to remember everything you want to say or ask about in the moment, so don’t put pressure on yourself to memorize it!
- Better yet, start keeping a symptom diary when you schedule your appointment. Your doctor can help you zoom out and notice patterns within your day or over a few weeks to see any potential triggers of your symptoms.
It’s important to prep your technology, too:
- Make sure you have a fully charged device (with a charger on hand in case it gets low).
- Log on to your appointment about 15 minutes early, so you can make sure the software works. Troubleshoot with your doctor’s receptionist if you can’t connect.
- Sometimes, it’s not the software’s fault: You’ll need a good internet connection to keep the appointment running smoothly.
Pick a calm environment:
- Find a quiet, private room: This way, you can maintain your privacy and focus, to make the most of your time online.
- You’ll want to set up good lighting: It’s not for vanity. Through telemedicine, providers cannot examine your skin symptoms up close, as well as your joints, without adequate lighting.
Here’s what you can leave at the door before you log in: Any worries
“To be honest with you, there's really nothing to be nervous about. It's so convenient, [and] it takes away from the commute of going to a physician’s office,” says Dr. Khattri. “If you're having active arthritis where it's painful to walk around, it takes away that [barrier], and you can talk to your doctor from the comforts of your own home.”
Saakshi Khattri, MD, is a rheumatologist and assistant professor at the Department of Rheumatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.