With ‘babies in the time of Covid’ hashtag trending on social media platforms, mothers-to-be are finding it hard to follow up with their Ob-Gyn during the pandemic. Some clinics are operating whilst others are only taking emergency cases, but pregnant women are still reluctant to schedule in-clinic follow-ups due to the risk of contracting the virus.
Due to the lockdown restrictions and virus fears, healthcare institutions all over the UAE are jumping onto the telemedicine bandwagon. Clinics and hospitals have introduced virtual audio and video consultations to treat patients remotely from the comfort of their homes.
During pregnancy, prenatal appointments ensure that the baby is healthy and that there are no complications. These are the same for all women – whether the pregnancy is low-risk or high-risk. Women are finding ease in scheduling virtual appointments with their specialists via smartphones and laptops due to flexible timing and cost-effectiveness.
How can I schedule a virtual pregnancy follow-up?
Numerous websites have their ways, however, it is important to choose a customizable, reliable, and HIPAA compliant website.
The appointment is made virtually by choosing the doctor of choice based on reviews and ratings. The date and time is chosen and the payment is made online. This two-minute process requires no technical expertise and is secure. The appointment is then confirmed and ten minutes prior to the time scheduled, the doctor and patient both receive the link to the video consultation. The high-quality video call is glitch-free and only requires a stable internet connection.
How can I prepare for the follow-up?
Before the session, jot down all your concerns and questions which you would like the doctor to assess. Furthermore, note your weight, blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat to mention to the doctor. The weight can be taken by a bathroom scale, which most houses usually have. The blood pressure can be taken by a blood pressure cuff that you can purchase or have delivered by the pharmacy. You will also need to invest in a fetal doppler monitor which will read your baby’s heartbeat. Though these readings may not be absolutely necessary, they will allow the doctor to fully evaluate you and your appointment will not need to visit the clinic at all. Knowing that you’ll need the doctor on your side for nine months, these are little investments that will go a long way!
“Look at it this way,” says a UAE mother and lifestyle blogger Nida – who believes that virtual pregnancy follow-ups are not replacing in-clinic follow-ups but augmenting them, “You don’t have to visit your doctor miles apart. You don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to drive or have someone drive you to the clinic. There’s no waiting and no car sickness. The appointment’s cost is less. You just have to jump into bed minutes before the appointment and have a stress-free video call with your doctor no matter where you are. On top of that, your medicines can be prescribed on the call and sent to you via SMS. You can have them delivered to your doorstep and get them picked up. If you’re a working pregnant mom like me, you can call your doctor to get a sick leave off work. It’s so easy, efficient and honestly very safe!”
What the experts say:
According to doctors, now is a great time to use telehealth if pregnant. With the patient’s medical history, and online consultation, the doctor can diagnose and prescribe the necessary medications to stay healthy. Only when need be the patient needs to visit labs for ultrasounds, or other in-depth examinations. The weekly follow-ups can conveniently be done online.
If the medication is not working, or the complications need to be examined in real-time, the patient may be told to come in for a face-to-face visit. However, 80% of the time, telemedicine visits will suffice.
What Hakeem says:
Here are some tips to make the most out of your Ob-Gyn telehealth appointment:
· Make sure that you sit in a comfortable and distraction-free place! There should be no noise. This will make sure that the doctor has your full attention.
· Test out the internet beforehand so that your call doesn’t lag and that there aren’t any problems from your end.
· Have all your questions in a notebook. Our memory is liable, there is only much we can remember.
· Be specific and to the point so that the doctor can evaluate you better.
· Take your vitals before the appointment if needed.
· If you’re feeling blue and not up to the mark, have your partner walk you through the appointment.
· Talk about the next follow-up so that you can schedule it before time!
“Telemedicine is making life convenient for many,” writes a patient. “My gynecologist is just a call away at all times and I couldn’t be happier.”
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