Take Your Vitals! Telemedicine Essentials

May 29, 2020

 

Telemedicine Essentials: Have you seen your doctor online yet??? COVID-19 is changing how we all do things, including doctor visits from home on your computer. This is a game changer for most families because you don’t have to pack up the whole family and bring everyone along for just one appointment. Seeing the doctor in the comfort of your own home, where your kids can sit and play with their own toys, makes seeing your doctor a much more pleasant experience. (Just a quick note that telemedicine appointments aren't appropriate for certain medical needs.)

 

There is one thing in particular that often gets overlooked during a telemedicine appointment; and that’s your vitals. When you go to the doctor’s office, they always take your height, weight, temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels. Since their nurses can’t reach out through your screen to take your vitals, there are some tools you can buy and use at home so you can take them yourself.

 

You should have at home a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, thermometer and a scale.

 

Get these and familiarize yourself with how to use them BEFORE your next online appointment. This information will give your doctor important information and help them better understand your state of health. 

 

Since this information and these tools can fluctuate, it’s best if you start of by taking your vitals at the same time every day over a week or two. This will give you a good baseline to know what your numbers normally are on a regular day before any unexpected symptoms arise.

 

 

How else should you prepare for your telemedicine appointment?

--> Write down your symptoms and pre-existing conditions

-->Write down your questions so you don't forget them

-->Have a list of your current medications and vitamins

-->Gather up your medical devices that you may need

-->Find a quiet spot away from distractions if you can

-->Set up your computer equipment ahead of time and get into the virtual waiting room 10-15 minutes prior. This will give you extra time in case you can’t get the program loaded or you need to find the login code or link sent to you

 

 

Each device company may work differently, but the ones listed below have worked well for us.

The links listed in this post are Amazon affiliate links and if you click on them and make a purchase within 24 hours of clicking then I may receive a very very small commission from it. 

 

 

PULSE OXIMETER

These measure the amount of oxygen in your blood / over your pulse rate. It’s important to know how well your body distributes oxygen from your lungs to the cells for your body to function properly.

 

Useage Tips:

Make sure it fits properly on your finger. If it’s too loose it might fall off or let extra light in; which would affect the reading.

 

Bright lights like the sun or small table lamps may interfere with the probe measurement.

 

Don’t use it on a finger that’s too large to fit inside the probe. It may cut off circulation to that finger and give an inaccurate reading.

 

Fingernail polish or other pigment may affect the reading because it works by measuring the amount of light emitted into the finger and the pigment may absorb some of that light.

 

It may be possible to use on a toe or an ear lobe if you can’t get an accurate measurement from your finger.

 

For children, you'll likely be able to use their thumb with an adult meter, or you may be able to clip it onto the child’s toe. 

 

 

BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF

 

It measures the rate of your blood pressure / over your pulse rate. There are 2 styles: one for your arm and one for your wrist; it’s just a preference for which one you want. Each one may have their own results range so be sure you read the ranges and know if you personally run high or low as your own “normal”. Mine is generally lower and each time the nurse takes mine they always ask me if mine runs low. Some may actually vary by a couple of numbers off so it would be great if you’re able to compare your results with an in-office nurse’s results. They always seem curious to know too so don’t be shy to bring it with you to your next in-office visit and ask them to compare the results.

 

Useage Tips:

Make sure you’re relaxed for 5 minutes before taking a reading

 

Try to take your measurement in a quiet room

 

Don’t move or talk during your reading

 

Don’t cross your legs; keep them flat on the floor

 

It’s best to use your left arm if you’re right-handed or use whichever arm generally tests higher and then try to use that arm consistently

 

Place it accurately on your body; upper arm or wrist based on which one you have (mine says to place it exactly 2mm below my wrist line)

 

Hold your hand/wrist at heart level in front of your heart with your elbow resting on a table/armchair

 

 

THERMOMETER

 

This is something most people already have at home anyway, but here’s the one we use because it only takes 8 SECONDS! When you’re trying to take a kids’ temp or if you have just a few seconds to spare before your doctor logs in, this one is quick and accurate! In fact, we have 4 of these…one for upstairs, one for downstairs, one in my car first aid bag and one in our “diaper” which I’m now calling our “outing” bag.

 

This one is great for kids because you swipe it across their forehead!