2020 saw the rise of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, and along with those came the rise of meeting virtually. Whether it has been a meeting with coworkers, catching-up with friends, an online family reunion, or meeting with a medical professional, folks have spent a lot of time on the number of applications that have popped up in the past year to help us see each other from a distance.
When the pandemic began, we at MindPath Care Centers found ourselves in a special position to meet growing distanced care needs, having launched a successful telehealth platform in 2016 with a goal to improve access to care, especially in hard-to-reach areas of North Carolina.
Along with having a number of providers that now offer telehealth – which you can find here – we’re officially the first behavioral telehealth program in North Carolina to have earned URAC accreditation, and we offer two options for a person seeking a virtual appointment:
- Psychiatric Evaluation and Medication Management
- Psychotherapy and Counseling
There are also options like BetterHelp or Talkspace that became very popular in 2020 across the country.
Needless to say, your options are wide-open to receive psychiatric and therapeutic care in the comfort of your own home through your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. But a big question many have is, what kind of equipment do I need to do a telehealth appointment or how can I make my video appointment better?
Below are a some tips on how to make the most out of online therapy:
Check your internet speed
It’s no secret that North Carolina, while there are plenty of internet providers in the larger metro areas like the Triangle and Charlotte, has large swaths of the state with little to no reliable wifi options. My own family in southeastern NC didn’t get wifi of any kind until this year – 2021.
There has been a push by local and state governments to subsidize companies who will bring internet to rural NC, but that can take time. So, what kind of internet does a person need to access a video call for telehealth?
Thankfully, not that much! Both Skype and Zoom, two of the largest video chat application companies, say that you only need around 1.5 Mbps download and upload speed for a 1-on-1 high definition (HD) call. In many cases, your phone data signal is enough to handle this. To check how fast your internet speed is, simply google “internet speed test” or check out this website: https://www.speedtest.net/
Give yourself enough time to set-up before the appointment
Your time is important and so is your therapist’s, so it may be important to ensure that you’re completely prepared for an appointment. Everyone knows that little problems pop up right when you don’t need them to, so making sure that you’ve crossed every T before going into your telehealth call can improve the experience and take worries off your mind. This may involve:
- Setting up a computer application or online account for the video chat
- Familiarize yourself with the video chat application so that, if something goes wrong, you can possibly address it quickly and reconnect
- Re-checking the appointment time so you now exactly when you need to be on
- Making sure your device is charged
- Getting your device(s) up and running with enough time for problems to arise and be fixed
- Writing down any and all thoughts / questions you want to address with your provider before, so that you don’t forget anything that you’d like to talk about
- Finding a quiet, and most importantly, a comfortable place to do the appointment, free from distractions
The big point: take time beforehand to make sure you’re prepared for your appointment in the same way that you might be if you’d had the time to get ready while driving to your provider’s office!