I suspect this won’t be news to many readers, but you might have friends or family that might benefit from the Grand Rapids Herald Review and their introduction to telehealth…
So how do I make telemedicine work? Don’t worry, it’s simpler than it sounds. Start by calling your clinic or mental health agency. Tell them what you need. They will tell you how appointments are arranged during our Minnesota Safe at Home period. If they’re using telemedicine, they will tell you what kind of technology you need – smart phone, computer, internet service. They will send you an email, and/or on the phone, walk you through the connecting process. They may use Zoom or Doxy.me or another video program. Before you know it, you’ll be talking to your care provider on the screen of your phone, tablet, or computer. It’s confidential, because the programs have lockout mechanisms, just like closing an office door.
If you don’t have the right technology? There are solutions. Your mental health care manager will help you get the right equipment and connections through a local grant. Your medical clinic will have other options for you. An old-fashioned phone call or clinic visit may be just what the doctor orders! Or, you can ask a family member, friend, or neighbor for help with a phone or computer. Just remember that if you live separately, you need to keep 6 feet physical distance between you, wear masks, and sanitize equipment. Don’t forget, you can always contact First Call/211, and they will help you problem-solve. The Mental Health Crisis Response Team has some equipment for loan to their clients.
Telemedicine may be one of the changes that survives the pandemic. In the future it could continue to ease connections with our medical and mental health care providers, especially in rural areas like ours. For now, remember there are ways to get medical and mental health care. You and me, we’re not alone. This telemedicine thing is a little new, but I hope a bit more familiar now, and not so stressful after all.