Virtual clinics: Talking to your doctors and other healthcare professionals by phone or video call
Phone and video consultations are becoming more common. Talking to your doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals over the phone or by video chat can save you time and keep you safer – no waiting rooms or trying to find a parking space! But it’s a different way of talking and getting your medical care, and you might find some things difficult.
About remote consultations
- The doctor / clinic will contact you if they want to arrange a phone or video call.
- Your doctors should be trained to support you and help you get the most out of the call.
- Your care won’t be affected - if you need a physical examination, tests or treatment, your doctor will arrange for these to happen safely.
- If you need any prescriptions, they can be sent to your pharmacy or posted to you.
- A remote consultation is still confidential.
- If there’s a charge for the consultation, you will pay online or over the phone. If you have health insurance, call your insurer to check your cover and make sure you get a receipt so you can claim on your policy.
Preparing for your appointment
- Tell your doctor if you prefer a phone or video chat – they will try to accommodate you. A video chat can be helpful if you want to show your doctor something on your body or if you like to see the doctor’s face when you’re talking.
- If you think you’d prefer to video chat but you’re not sure how, ask a friend or family member to help you. Most smartphones can be used for video calls.
- If you want privacy for the call, arrange the best place and time for this to happen. Using earphones with a microphone can help keep the conversation confidential.
- You can have a friend or family member with you, using video chat or speaker phone. If you want them to join the chat from another location, call your doctor in advance to see if this is possible (for example, your doctor may set up a virtual meeting and invite both you and your loved one).
- Check your equipment Do you know how to work the camera / microphone? Do you need a particular programme or app to communicate with the doctor? Do you have a good internet / phone signal? If you’re not confident with technology, see if a friend or family member can practise with you and maybe stay nearby during the call in case you need any help.
- Be prepared Have a list of questions you want to ask and things you want to tell the doctor. Keep a pen and paper with you, so you can write down anything important.
- Make sure the doctor has your correct phone number and email address, so they can contact you after the consultation, or if you lose your connection during the call.
- Take a minute to check you have said everything you wanted to and that you understand what’s going to happen next before the call ends.
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
For more information
1800 200 700