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Getting the most out of phone or video consultations

Remote consultations conducted by telephone and video call have been increasingly used, particularly throughout the pandemic, as a way of removing the need for myeloma patients to come into hospitals and clinics.

Although some patients and healthcare professionals have found remote appointments helpful, there are also some challenges. To help you get the most out of your remote appointments we’ve put together some tips to help you adapt to this new way of interacting with your team.

Preparing for the call

  • Find a quiet area with a good phone/WIFI signal where you are not likely to be interrupted. If you are living with others you might want to let them know about the appointment, so they won’t disturb you
  • As with normal appointments, prepare a list of questions to ask during the call and have a pen and some paper with you to note down what is discussed
  • Make sure you are comfortable, your phone or computer has sufficient battery (if using a mobile device) and you are familiar with the technology. If you are doing a video call, make sure you are positioned so the camera is facing you and can see the screen clearly
  • If you are asking someone you live with to join the call to support you, make sure you know how to put your phone/computer on speakerphone, and make it loud enough for everyone who is listening to hear it clearly. If you are doing a video call, make sure you are both positioned so you can see the screen and are captured by the camera
  • Don’t worry if the call is not at the exact time you arranged – as with normal appointments there can be unexpected delays

On the call

  • Treat the call as a normal appointment. Ask questions, raise any concerns you have and highlight any new or worsening symptoms or side effects
  • If you are not contacted by your usual doctor, their replacement will be part of the team and will be able to discuss your treatment and care on behalf of your usual doctor. This could be another doctor or a nurse specialist. Different doctors and nurses may explain things slightly differently so if there is any terminology you do not understand then ask the doctor/nurse to explain
  • Don’t worry if your appointment overruns a little. As with normal appointments, there will be some flexibility to make sure patients have the time they need
  • Make sure you have the correct contact details for your doctor, your nurse specialist and any out-of-hours services. Confirm what to do and who to contact if your condition changes between appointments
  • Check with your doctor/nurse when the next appointment will be and whether it is likely to be face to face or virtual again
  • If you are finding remote appointments difficult, especially if this is your first appointment, and you feel you’d like to see your doctor in person, ask if a face-to-face appointment is possible. They will try to accommodate this if they can. You can also let them know if you would like someone to take the call on your behalf

After the call

  • Remember, you don’t need to wait until your next appointment to contact your healthcare team. If you develop any new or worsening symptoms or side effects between appointments, get back in touch with your healthcare team to let them know as soon as possible.

Key points

  • Treat appointments by call or video the same as you would a face-to-face one – prepare what you want to discuss beforehand and have your list of questions handy
  • Take as much time as you need to cover your questions
  • Invite someone onto the call with you if you like. If they are not going to be with you in person, make sure ahead of time that they know how to join the call
  • Have a way to take notes
  • Remember, you can contact your team between appointments as usual

Financial support for this educational material was provided by Pfizer Limited as an Independent Medical Educational Grant. Pfizer have had no input or involvement in the design, development and content creation of any resources produced.