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My changing health care world…and how I’m learning to embrace the future.

It is undeniable that COVID-19 has changed the world I live in and while I hope that life returns to pre-COVID conditions soon, in the meantime, I’m learning that I must adapt to a new reality…Even for little things like scheduling an appointment with my doctor.

I was faced with this challenge recently and thankfully, ClareMedica is adapting with me. They’ve worked hard to prevent the virus spreading amongst their patients, to protect staff, and to ensure proper cleaning procedures that are compliant with government regulations…all things that must be considered with each appointment. Additionally, to address these new circumstances my doctor is now offering something called telehealth - an online appointment with your doctor that takes place on your home computer, or your smartphone, or tablet.

I must admit, this made me very nervous. I have made Facetime calls to family on my phone, but so far it’s always been by accident. I have joined in on Zoom meetings with my family, only after my granddaughter installed everything I needed, so that when I received the e-mail invite all I had to do was press the link and see my family’s smiling faces.

Talking to my doctor about the complications I was having was not something I expected or really wanted to do on the computer. It just seemed so strange. But I was faced with a challenge; I needed to speak with my doctor while my granddaughter was away on vacation with her mother (my daughter) along with all the other smart kids in my family! Suddenly, I felt adrift on an ocean of technology. Nonetheless, the administrator at my doctor’s office was very encouraging and said the app. was very easy to download and use. Easy for a young person I thought to myself, but the words, ‘app’ and ‘download’ were starting to make me anxious. She explained that the app was only required if I wanted to have the video appointment on my smartphone. While I am proud of my advancing technical abilities, I’m not that experienced just yet. I asked her for the easiest, least confusing way to connect with the doctor, she said it was on my computer and that she would send me an email with the details of my appointment. She promised that all I had to do was click on the link at the time of my appointment.

On the day of the appointment, I did just that. I opened the email, clicked on the link provided, and presto! opened my web browser to the page I needed. There I saw my doctor’s name and my appointment time. Right below that information was another link/button to start the meeting with my doctor. I checked my hair and lipstick one last time and I clicked on it - the next thing I knew, I was talking to my doctor, face-to-face.

At the sight of her, all of my anxiety left me. I could look into her eyes, and she could see me. I was able to show her the medications that I was concerned about and after some discussion, she decided that an in-person appointment was needed. She had her staff send me another email with the appointment time and instructions for attending the clinic in person.

The day of my appointment, I was to call from outside to let them know I was there. I had to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer upon entering. Once inside the clinic it was business as usual. Both my doctor and I wore masks, she wore gloves, and I was required to use hand sanitizer again on the way out. It was all very simple.

COVID has forced us to consider every visit and outing we make. If you are dealing with a chronic condition or are immune-compromised, this telehealth service can save you the trouble of having to risk potential exposure just so you can see your doctor.

My message to you is this: Don’t miss out on important medical appointments because of COVID related restrictions. While change can seem daunting, adapting and learning new ways of doing things doesn’t have to be hard. Our fear of change is often what makes adapting to new circumstances seem more difficult than it needs to be.

As for using my cell phone for my next telehealth appointment with my doctor?... well that might require a grandchild’s supervision, but I am willing to give it a try.

Yours in health.

- Mare

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