Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had to adapt to "new normals" like wearing masks in public, forgoing large family gatherings and not blowing out birthday candles. It often feels like many memories from the past few years just aren't the same as they once were. When you add infertility struggles to that already overwhelming mental load, well - it's a lot to manage.
So when you find out that you need to pursue fertility assistance, where do you even begin?
How do you make sure that in the age of Zoom meetings and virtual check-ups that you're getting the care you need?
It comes as no surprise that the medical field has had to adjust over the past few years to keep our patients, staff, and all the future families we’re working to build safe. So, how does a fertility practice like ours achieve this while offering the same high-quality care?
It all begins with the virtual fertility consultation.
The Virtual Fertility Consultation: What Can I Expect?
Here at Illume Fertility, we’ve updated our practice policies to keep everyone as safe as possible, at times reducing waiting room capacity and working to keep in-office visits to a minimum. This means that telehealth (a video consultation), is how each patient is meeting their doctor for the very first time. While at first this was an adjustment, it seems both patients and physicians have now adjusting to this new way of getting acquainted, and now often prefer it!
A Zoom consultation gives you, as the patient, many advantages early on in the family building process:
- You have the opportunity to join from home - even from the comfort of your couch.
- You can choose a time that fits within your schedule. This alone can be challenging during a busy workday, and removing the commute to the clinic can save lots of time!
- It potentially alleviates some of the anxiety related to being at a doctor’s office.
- It helps the doctors get to know the real you. They love the opportunity to see a glimpse into your world, talk to you while you’re comfortable, and even meet a cute pet.
Despite all of the “pros” to these virtual consultations, our team knows obstacles can pop up. Check out the list below for six things you can do to make the most of your virtual fertility consultation.
6 Tips for Optimizing Your Virtual Consultation
1. Be present
Literally! Whether you and your partner are working from home together or are in different locations, try to both be available for this appointment. The language of fertility treatment is new and different for many patients so hearing your personal plan from the doctor’s mouth is important.
Additionally, try to limit distractions. Set your phone or work email on Do Not Disturb for that thirty or sixty minute window, so you can absorb information and ask any questions that you may have.
2. Tech matters
The bigger the screen, the better! If you have access to it, a laptop or desktop is the best way to join your virtual consultation. Our own Dr. Joshua Hurwitz has noticed that the connection to the Zoom meeting seems to be more stable on a laptop, as opposed to a handheld device.
The bigger screen also allows your doctor to share images, slides, and results easily!
3. Make sure to highlight your good side
We’re all trying to make our home offices work, even if our “office” is a kitchen table. We understand that this can be a struggle. One quick tip, no matter where you’re joining from, try not to have a bright light behind you if it’s possible - a sunny window or overhead light can make it difficult for your doctor to see your face and connect with you!
Try to face the window or light instead so that your face is more visible.
4. Don't rock the boat
Our doctors have seen it all - from Zoom consultations conducted on a walk outside to someone in the car on the way to work. We recommend being in a quiet, stationary place where you can sit and listen. Walking around or jostling your device can disrupt your connection, and can make it hard to focus for the provider on the other end.
And it goes without saying, but be safe! Don't drive while talking to your doc.
5. Take notes
Don’t worry, there isn’t going to be a test! But, as we mentioned above, the language and processes of fertility treatment can be new and confusing to many. Don’t be afraid to write things down or to come to your consultation prepared with questions. That’s what we’re here for.
Taking notes can also help with the questions that will come up after the call. “What did the doctor say again?” is a common thought after such a big consultation. Please know our team is always here to answer any questions you may have after your consultation, or at any time, for that matter. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out.
6. Consider your preferences
While your consultation and some follow-up appointments are virtual right now, most fertility journeys will still involve at least one trip to the office, if not more. Here at Illume Fertility, we have eight providers and five office locations to help patients from all over the map.
While each doctor is able to meet patients virtually, they might not be available at your preferred office location - which is something to keep in mind when choosing your provider and making your consultation appointment.
If you’re interested in seeing a specific provider (or designating one specific office location, for that matter), inform your New Patient Liaison when making your appointment. While each office has an incredible team of administrative and clinical staff, you may want to check that your chosen doctor is physically present in the office of your choice. This way, further down the road, you’ll be able to experience treatment milestones together.
Feel ready for your virtual consultation?
Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.