November 11, 2020

Is telehealth right for you?

Members give video visits high marks — and with a few simple tips, you can prepare for a successful telehealth experience.

Kaiser Permanente video visits allow our members to receive quality primary and specialty care from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Like many Americans, Ginny Taylor had never booked a video appointment with her doctor prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But her first visit exceeded expectations.

“It was so simple and worked perfectly,” said Taylor, a Kaiser Permanente member for 17 years, who also appreciated the time she saved by not needing to drive and park at her facility, and the ability to keep a strong connection with her physician. “It was so nice being able to see the expressions of my doctor’s face right from my laptop.”

Kaiser Permanente’s robust video visit and telehealth capabilities have allowed us to provide high-quality care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 80% of our outpatient visits were completed by scheduled video and telephone appointments at the height of the shelter-in-place orders in the spring of 2020, and these virtual visits continue to represent about half of appointments today as members embrace the convenience, safety, and quality of these options.

Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente currently conducts more than 40,000 outpatient video visits each weekday on average — representing more than 20 times more this year than in all of 2019. In post-visit surveys, our members have rated our video visits 4.5 out of 5 stars on average.

“Our patients have always really liked video visits,” noted dermatologist Samit Patrawala, MD, who had already made video visits a staple of his practice before COVID-19. “They allow a personal connection and quality care, while also being affordable and convenient, and saving time away from work. The COVID-19 pandemic made more people aware of the benefits of video visits and really sped up a trend that was already in progress because it made so much sense for members.”

Get started with video visits

Video visits are available for a wide range of health issues and provide a convenient option to receive high-quality care face-to-face for cold, flu, and many other winter concerns and symptoms.

Video appointments can be joined from a smartphone or tablet, or through a laptop. During a video visit at Kaiser Permanente, the physician has full access to a patient’s electronic health record and can prescribe medication and order lab work and diagnostic tests. Physicians can also direct patients to additional care as needed, including in-person visits, as well as follow up digitally by video, phone, or secure message depending on treatment needs and member preferences.

“Our patients benefit from years of leadership and investment in video visits,” said Dr. Patrawala. “Video visits offer so many advantages by streamlining the interaction between patient and physician — no parking, no check-in, full history, the ability to immediately order needed tests, and more — while still preserving a face-to-face, human connection.”

Tips for a successful video visit

Dr. Patrawala offers several suggestions for making the most of your video visit:

  • Just as you would for an in-person visit, make a list of questions, prioritize concerns, and be ready to answer any questions about your current medications and symptoms.
  • Join with your camera and microphone at least 15 minutes early to check your internet connection and equipment. If you are using a mobile device, make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection or a strong network signal of at least 3 bars.
  • Try to sit in a quiet, well-lit place so your doctor can clearly see and hear you, and you can be free from distractions.
  • If you need or want someone else on the call or video — a family member or a friend — let the doctor know. He or she will help get that person connected, too.
  • Also let your doctor know in advance if you need an interpreter to join your visit.

For more information or to book a video visit, Kaiser Permanente members can visit kp.org/getcare.