Participating in Telehealth Appointments

Advice for Living With a Hypersomnia From People Who Have Hypersomnias*

Telehealth sessions can be a great choice for person(s) who have hypersomnias (PWH). It is often significantly more convenient to have an appointment in your own home via computer (or other devices) versus having to navigate the logistics of time and travel to see your healthcare provider in person.

However, there are a number of issues that PWH should consider and be prepared for before and during the appointment.

Question:

How can PWH best prepare for a telehealth session?

1.   Check with your insurance company. In the U.S. it is very important to be sure your insurer covers telehealth sessions. Even if it covers such sessions once or twice (e.g., during COVID-19) it is not guaranteed that it will cover future sessions.

NOTE:  If you are an out-of-state patient, it is especially important to do two things:

  • Find out if telehealth appointments are covered by your insurance policy for out-of-state sessions, as there may be restrictions;
  • If your insurance company will pay for out-of-state telehealth sessions, check with your doctor to be sure their medical practice can hold sessions with out-of-state patients. There are cases where the medical practice is prohibited from doing so (even though your insurance policy would pay).

2.   Prepare in advance for the technology aspects of the visit.

  • What exactly does a PWH need to set up for the actual visit? A patient portal? A Zoom account? Anything else?
  • Be aware that even if the portal, Zoom account, etc. works on one device (e.g., a PC), it may not work on an iPad or phone unless that is specifically set up as well!
  • Is it possible to set up a practice visit with office personnel?
  • Is it possible for supporters to join the telehealth appointment from other locations (e.g., a conference call or multiple-video meeting)? If not, perhaps a supporter can be available on speakerphone while the telehealth visit is via a separate computer or iPad.

3.   Allow enough time to get the computer or other device ready, become situated with notes, paper and pen, perhaps have a drink of water nearby, and allow time to log on (considering there may be glitches that need to be solved when trying to log on).

4.   Telehealth appointments often take a different type of energy than an in-person meeting. Be prepared for sudden brain fog or sleepiness.

  • What helps you manage unexpected brain fog? One suggestion is to write out your questions or specific concerns in advance.
    • If possible, send your list of questions to the healthcare provider ahead of time, since it is easy to go off-track during a telehealth visit.
  • How do you keep track of important information during a medical visit? Suggestions include:
    • Jotting down notes during the meeting if you can;
    • Asking a supporter to take notes for you;
    • Asking for a copy of the office visit note and any other meeting summaries/recommendations from the healthcare provider at the end of the session.

*Members of the Hypersomnia Foundation Patient Advisory and Advocacy Council (PAAC) who either have a hypersomnia or are supporters offer this advice (2020).


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