Having a telehealth visit by video or phone with your child's pediatrician, pediatric specialist, family doctor or non-physician clinician can be convenient, especially if you live in an area where you can't get to the office easily. Did you know a Wi-Fi connection at home, computer or smartphone may not be needed to have a telehealth visit? Here are some tips to work around common technical issues for a telehealth visit:
No wi-fi or slow wi-fi at home
You might be able to connect to Wi-Fi at a school, the library or a community center. Many places open their networks to the public. You could ask to reserve a quiet room for the visit. If you have a vehicle, you may be able to connect to their Wi-Fi from the parking lot. Vehicles can be a private, quiet place. Be sure to safely park before starting the visit.
You might need to see a specialist whose office isn't easy to get to. Work with your doctor's office to see if you can have a visit with the specialist and your doctor at the same time using telehealth.
Some public, college and school libraries are lending small Wi-Fi hotspot devices that you can check out like a book. They plug into your smartphone or computer and provide free Wi-Fi service. The library staff can let you know what areas are best to connect to the service and how far away you can be from a cell tower.
Maybe you have Wi-Fi, but it freezes when you join a video call. Before your telehealth visit, ask everyone at home to stop online entertainment like movies and video games. This provides stronger Wi-Fi for your visit.
If you have internet or smartphone service, contact them to ask if they have a free upgrade for families with children in school. This would give you a stronger connection.
No computer or smartphone
Does your child have a laptop at home that they use for school? Contact the school to ask if you can use it for a telehealth visit. If your public library is open, ask if they have a quiet, private space or reading room with a computer to reserve. Remember to write down the link you received for the telehealth visit so you can type it into the library's computer browser.
If you have a landline or smartphone without video, check with your pediatrician's office to see if you can talk by phone. You won't be able to see each other, but this is a good option for a follow up to an in-person visit or to ask a question about a concern you have.
New to telehealth technology
The next time you're in the doctor's office, ask if they can show you what you would need and how to sign up for a telehealth visit. For example, they could:
Bookmark a website on your phone or laptop
Show you how to get free email so you can get information about appointments
Text a link to your phone that you would click to sign in for the visit
Give you step-by-step instructions to take home
Give you the name and phone number of someone to help if you get stuck
Your pediatrician's office is the place to start with questions about telehealth. Talk with them about what kind of phone or computer you have. Tell them if you can get a Wi-Fi connection. You can work together to plan your child's next visit whether it's by video call, phone call or in-person.
This resource is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,000,000 with no percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.