Video or phone appointments with patients that are unable to seek healthcare in person.

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Telehealth - extending the way we deliver healthcare

We are now used to talking to our whanau, friends and our communities by phone, text, social media, email and video using Skype, Facetime or Zoom. You can also speak or 'see' your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional using different digital technologies.

In Healthcare, Telehealth is defined as 'the use of information and communication technologies to deliver health care when patients and care providers are not in the same physical location'.

Telephone or video appointments can be suitable for some patients, some of the time. Your doctor, nurse or health professional will decide if it is suitable and safe to complete your appointment by telephone or video call.

Having a Telehealth appointment puts your care closer to your home, can save your time and money by not having to travel to your appointment or take time off work.

Telehealth appointments

You may now be offered to attended your appointment by telephone or video. Your Doctor, nurse or healthcare professional will decide if it is suitable and safe to complete your appointment.

Telephone appointments

Information and advice for preparing for a telephone appointment.

  1. A mobile phone or landline.

  2. It is best if you have a hands-free device. If you have a smartphone, find a way to prop it up so you can move about.

  3. Quiet -space

  4. Find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed during your appointment.

  5. Things to prepare for the appointment:
    • A pen and paper to note things down during your appointment.
    • A prescription card, a list of any medications or your medications in their packaging.
    • A list of questions or issues to help you get the most from your appointment.
    • A support person. You are welcome to have a family member/whānau or friend with you during the call. Just remember to tell the GP/clinician who is with you when you start your appointment.

  • You may be asked to confirm your identity
  • If another person is with you, introduce them to the clinician
  • When you are ready you can talk to your clinician about your health
  • You may receive important information like changes to your medication
  • You can ask the clinician to repeat information to confirm you both have it correctly
  • If something goes wrong with the call, we will call you back
  • After the clinician has finished talking with you, they'll arrange things like letters, tests and other appointments if needed
  • We will say "goodbye" before we go

Video appointments

Information and advice for preparing for a video appointment.

  1. A charged up computer, tablet or smartphone with built in camera and microphone.

  2. Good -connection

  3. A good internet connection.

  4. You can use data but Wi-Fi offers a better experience.

  5. Quiet -space

  6. Find a quiet, well-lit space where you won't be disturbed during your appointment.

  7. Use Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers or install Zoom app on smart devices

  8. Join your Telehealth appointment with any of the following browsers - Chrome, Firefox or Safari. For smart devices, we recommend that you can download and install the Zoom app before your appointment.

  9. Things to prepare for the appointment:
    • A pen and paper to note things down during your appointment.
    • A prescription card, a list of medications or your medications in their packaging.
    • A list of questions or issues to help you get the most from your appointment.
    • A support person.
    • You are welcome to have a family member/whānau or friend with you during the appointment. Just remember to tell the GP/clinician who is with you when you join your appointment.

  • 5-10 minutes before your appointment, find and open your video appointment email or text message.
  • If you would like to test your internet connection and setup using Zoom click here.
  • At the time of your video appointment click Join your video call appointment via Zoom link. The Zoom software will automatically start. Please remember to select Join with video and Join with audio. If joining from an iPad or similar device select Call using internet audio or Call using device audio.
  • Once joined, you should be in the video waiting room ready to start your appointment
  • Your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional will join your video call when they are ready
  • Say "hello" and wave when connected

  • You may be asked to confirm your identity
  • If another person is with you, introduce them to the clinician
  • When you are ready you can talk to your clinician about your health
  • If you want to show the clinician something, you can try to use the screen camera
  • You may receive important information like changes to your medication
  • You can ask the clinician to repeat information to confirm you both have it correctly
  • If something goes wrong with the call, we will call you back by Zoom or telephone
  • After the clinician has finished talking with you, they will arrange things like letters, tests and other appointments if needed
  • We will say "goodbye" before we go

If all goes well, the call will feel like a face-to-face appointment

Telehealth patient FAQs

Patients now have the option to 'see' their clinician (doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional) by video or telephone appointments where your Doctor, Nurse or Health professional determines that it is appropriate and safe.

Having a Telehealth appointment puts your care closer to your home, can save your time and money by not having to travel to your appointment or take time off work.  If you clinician offers you a Telehealth appointment, the choice to accept or decline is still yours.

Here are some answers to common questions you may have about your telephone or video appointment.

Telephone or video appointments can be appropriate for some patients, some of the time. Your doctor, nurse or health professional will decide if it is appropriate and safe to complete your appointment by telephone or video call.

Your doctor, nurse or health professional will decide if it is appropriate and safe to complete your appointment by telephone or video call.  If it iss appropriate, you will be invited to attned a Telehealth appointment.  This is your choice and you can request a have an in person appointment if you feel more comfortable in doing so.

If you find travelling to your appointment difficult or are short on time, you may be interested in a telephone or video appointment.

For a telephone appointment you will need a mobile phone or landline.

For a video appointment you will need a reliable internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. Even if you are not confident using computers, a carer or relative may be able to help you set it up and get started.

Your clinician will need to decide whether it is appropriate and safe to complete your appointment by telephone or video. Research shows that in many but not all cases, a telephone or video appointment can be a safe and convenient alternative to a traditional in person  appointment. Your clinician will be able to advise whether your particular condition can be effectively and safely managed by telephone or video.

One factor to take into account is whether you will need a physical examination. In some cases, your clinician can assess you via telephone or video call, but in other cases but in other cases you may need to attend your appointment in person, for example if you need an examination, test or procedure.

You can discuss this as an option with your Doctor, Nurse or health care professional. This will be taken into consideration when a decision is made if the appointment is apprioriate and safe to be held on the phone or over video.

Video appointments are safe and secure. The same levels of privacy and security apply to telephone and video appointments as they normally would for in person appointments.

As telephone and video appointments take place from your device, you play a key role in keeping yourself safe online. If possible, close any other applications or windows on your device before and during the appointment to avoid performance and security issues.

Video appointments use the same amount of data as you would use while watching a YouTube video (max of 1MB data per minute).

Many aspects of video appointments are similar to in person ones, but the first few seconds are very different because you need to make the technical connection. This may be a little slow the first time but once you are connected, things will become more familiar.

Here are some tips to get you set up:

How do I connect with my clinician at the start of the appointment?

At the time of your appointment click the Join video call appointment via Zoom link in your appointment invite email or appointment reminder email. You will see prompts to connect with audio and video at each step.

Once joined you will need to wait for your Doctor, Nurse or health care professional to join to start your appointment. The clinician will see that you are ready and waiting.

How do I check the technology is working?

When you first connect via video, you and your clinician may want to check that everything is working well before you start. You might find yourself saying things like "can you hear me?" or "your face isn't clear".

If there is a technical problem (e.g. you cannot see or hear each other) try these suggestions:

  • type a message to the clinician using the text-based chat window (or see if the clinician has sent you a message)
  • if internet speed is an issue, turning off video might help
  • wait for the clinician to contact you by telephone

For more help with technical issues please refer to our Troubleshooting section.

If someone has helped me set up for video, do they have to attend my appointment?

If someone has been helping you to get set up, it is quite OK to ask them to leave the room once you are connected to the clinician.

As in a traditional in person appointment, it is your choice who sits in on your appointment.

How will we start the appointment?

Once you and your clinician agree that the technology works, they will start the main part of your appointment, usually by saying something like "How have you been since I last saw you?" or "How are you feeling?"

Research shows that once the technical aspects of set-up are completed, telephone and video appointments tend to be similar to traditional in person ones.

You do not need to look directly into the camera on your computer, tablet, or phone. Looking at the screen is enough for the clinician to know that you are listening.

Because webcams provide a limited view, your clinician may not be able to see much beyond your face. It is a good idea who is with you or if thing are happening out of view (e.g. "my wife has just come into the room"), so they know what is going on.

Telephone or video appointments can sometimes suffer from technical problems, (e.g. due to a busy network or sound delays). This can result in garbled talk, or blurry or frozen faces on the screen.

Having a good connection and equipment helps, but otherwise there may not be much you can do to change this. Basically, some telephone and video appointments may turn out to be less fluent than a face-to-face appointment.

You may need to repeat things or ask for clarification more often. If there has been a technical glitch, a good way to restart the appointment is to repeat the last thing you heard (or said).

It may help to make a comment about technical problems if they happen (e.g. "You are breaking up a bit").

If the clinician is giving you important information, like about medications, ask them to repeat it to confirm you both have it correctly.

It is a good idea to have a pen and paper handy to note things down during your appointment.

If using video, you could also ask them to send this information via a short chat message so you have it in a written format.

The final moments of a telephone or video appointment are usually different from a face-to-face one. In a face-to-face appointment, the clinician might stand up and accompany you to the door before shaking hands and saying goodbye. In a telephone or video appointment, you both need to find other ways to end your conversation.

Here are some ideas: 

What if there is something I have not understood?

  • Towards the end, the clinician will probably ask you if there is anything else you want to cover, and suggest when your next appointment should be. This happens in much the same way as in a face-to-face appointment.
  • It may be necessary to summarise or clarify things that were missed as a result of technical interference. In particular, make sure you are clear about medication and dosages and ask for confirmation in the chat window if necessary.

How do we end a telephone or video appointment?

The appointment ends when you click the Leave meeting button.

Don't worry if you can't find it - the clinician will close the session.

After the clinician has finished talking to you, they will arrange various things like letters, blood test forms and other appointments if required.

Before completing your appointment together, discuss with your clinician about whether your next appointment should be in person or via telephone or video.

Take note of the clinician's advice. Just because you felt the appointment went fine by video doesn't mean the clinician was confident that everything clinically necessary was achieved. If they are uneasy about another video appointment, ask why.

It is likely that you will become more familiar and confident with the technology over time. So, if it seems strange or difficult for the first appointment, it may get easier for your following appointments.

We always value your feedback so feel free to share your experiences and views (positive or negative) about video appointments to the clinician so that we can continue to improve our services.

We may also contact you after your telephone or video appointment to ask you about your experience. It's OK to point out that things didn't go well and suggest ways of improving the experience for other patients.

If you would like to send us feedback please use our Patient care feedback form.

Troubleshooting

There are some common technical issues that may be experienced during a video call.

Here are some tips to help

Check your speakers/headset

  1. Is your volume turned up enough?

  2. If your speakers are external, are they plugged in securely and switched on?

  3. Is the correct speaker or headset selected? Check your settings.

  4. Are you hearing an echo?
    • If using external speakers, position them further away from your computer and reduce the volume
    • A headset or headphones might get rid of the echo

Check your web camera

  1. If using an external camera, is it plugged in securely and switched on?

  2. Is correct camera selected? Check correct camera selected in settings

  3. Is other software using the camera?
    • Check if other software is also running, e.g. Skype
    • Quit any other applications. A computer reboot may also be required

Check your internet connection

  1. Are others on the network using lots of bandwidth, i.e. other video calls in progress?
  2. Is your modem/router (wireless network) working properly?
    • Move closer to the access point
    • Ideally you have line of sight and are close to an access point