While the notion of telehealth may seem deeply impersonal, it offers a faster, more effective way to connect and communicate with physicians near you. So much of the traditional healthcare system depends on time. In order to navigate the system, you need time–and a lot of it.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have time to spare. Between work, family obligations, social events and–oh yeah!–the self-care so many of us are desperately trying to keep up with, there’s little to no time to spend waiting for a physician referral or seeking out a specialist who accepts our insurance.

Making matters even worse, the outdated healthcare system is waterlogged with missing or incomplete patient data. Want to secure your charts to look over yourself, or hoping to transfer your medical history to a new physician? Get ready to wait on hold for an hour and then another 7-10 days for processing.

The current healthcare system is, at best, frustrating. At worst, it disincentivizes many of us to seek the care we depend on to keep us well. Luckily, telehealth and patient apps are changing the way that healthcare is delivered. Telehealth and patient apps have the ability to change how we interact with our own health data, our physicians and the healthcare system as a whole.

Rather than the deeply impersonal experience many of us fear when we hear the words “virtual care,” telehealth provides a platform to connect faster and more efficiently than ever. If you’re new to the world of telehealth or seeing a new practitioner for the first time, here are some pointers to help use telehealth to your advantage.

#1. Familiarize yourself with your personal data.

patient medical history laptop

Your data may be fairly succinct, or it may span back across a lifetime. Regardless of how long or short your personal health data, be sure to familiarize yourself with the content before meeting with your practitioner. This is especially important if you’re experiencing new symptoms or are seeing a new physician for the first time.

While most doctors don’t like to rush patients, the reality is that most physicians have a limited amount of time with each patient, so it’s important to be prepared for your appointment. Make a note of anything in your health data you’d like to discuss and write down any questions that you may have beforehand so that you don’t forget to ask come appointment time.

#2. Find a physician who will listen to your questions.

There are a large number of exceptional healthcare providers at your disposal: don’t settle for anything less than great! A good physician will take the time to listen to your concerns, go over your health information with you and explain in clear, plain language what needs to occur for treatment to be successful.

If you’re not satisfied with your current practitioner, consider seeking a new physician using an app with patient ratings. A good app will allow you to locate a general practitioner near you who accepts your insurance.

#3. Take notes!

Even if you’ve taken the steps to familiarize yourself with your personal health data, you’re still a few leaps and bounds shy of being an actual medical professional. It’s easy to get confused during an appointment and forget an important piece of advice or information later on.

Be sure to take notes during your appointment, and don’t be afraid to ask your practitioner to repeat something if you become confused or need additional clarification.

While taking notes may feel silly, treat the experience as though you are a student of your own health. Your personal health data will act as the lesson plan and your physician will act as the teacher. Your notes may become of vital help later down the road or your physician may have tips that are personalized to your exact needs that wouldn’t turn up in a Google search!

#4. Follow up!

smiling businesswoman blank smartphone

If you do happen to leave an appointment, only to arrive home with additional questions, be sure to book a follow-up appointment or contact your doctor for clarification. Communication is a two-way street! While traditional healthcare delivery models are such that it would take a matter of days to hear back from a provider, telehealth delivery is often much faster.

Be sure to book a follow-up appointment if your treatment doesn’t resolve an issue or if your provider specifically asked you to book a second appointment. Often, secondary appointments are necessary for chronic conditions, infections or injuries.