Virtual Appointment Guidance
A virtual appointment is when your healthcare professional will connect with you via video call instead of you and/or your family attending an appointment at the hospital. Many of our teams are now offering virtual appointments and the guidance below will help you to prepare for this.
- Help with social distancing and shielding
- Can save time, money and stress-there is no need to travel to the hospital.
- Are safe and secure
In advance of your appointment, you will be sent a letter or a text message from the department you have an appointment with which will include an appointment date and time (this may just be morning or afternoon).
On the day of your appointment, you may receive a text message providing a more accurate time for your virtual call. The appointment may be a little early or late but we will try to text you to let you know.
Once you have been sent the link for the video call it will remain active for 10-15 minutes. If you try to enter after this time the link may not work and you will need to contact your department to rearrange the appointment. If you do not enter the video call and do not contact us then you will receive a letter from the hospital stating that you did not attend the appointment.
You should treat this appointment in the same way as a face-to-face appointment.
If you can’t make the date or time, please contact your department. Our teams are happy to re-arrange but if you don’t contact us and/or don’t answer the video call then you will receive a letter from the hospital saying you did not attend the appointment. If you are having difficulty using Zoom or AccuRx then we can try to explain. If you do not have the necessary equipment then it may be possible to arrange a Telephone or Face-to-face consultation – please don’t just not attend the appointment.
If the appointment is for your child it's important that they are present as well as you. The clinician may need to look at them or ask them a question directly.
What do I need?
- A computer, tablet or smartphone with a built-in camera and microphone (make sure your device is plugged in or has enough charge)
- A quiet room
- A good internet connection. Sit close to the Wi-Fi router if possible.
- If your child is having a speech assessment or therapy session, you may be asked to get some of your child’s favourite toys ready, or you may be sent some pictures or worksheets.
How do I set it up?
Our services are currently using two video calling platforms: Zoom and accuRx. You will be contacted using one of these platforms. Below are instructions on how to set up the call.
You may have a joint call with more than one clinician (for example, with a speech therapist and a consultant surgeon). You do not need to do anything differently for this, both clinicians will be in the same video call with you and your child.
Setting up for an accuRx video call
- On the day of your child’s appointment, you will be sent a text message with a secure link to follow. Click the link on your mobile phone and it will open a web browser.
- If you don’t have a smartphone or would prefer to use a laptop/tablet then the link can be sent to your email. (Please contact the department who made your appointment to provide your email address. Contact details should be on your letter).
- It may show you a screen where you need to click ‘request permissions’ to turn on your camera and microphone. You will be prompted to test your microphone before entering the call.
- You should then be able to see yourself in the video call.
- Your clinician may be in the call already or you may need to wait a few minutes for them to arrive.
How AccuRX looks on a computer
How Accrux looks on a phone
At the end of the call, the clinician will close down the video call securely.
- Using an iPhone? You need IOS13 or if you are using IOS10 – IOS12 you will be prompted to download the ‘whereby’ app.
- IOS <10? accuRx is not supported, we will need to rearrange using Zoom.
- Using an iPad? You must open the link in Safari
Setting up for a Zoom video call
- You will have been contacted by your department admin team and provided your email address.
- On the day of your appointment you will receive an email with a link to the zoom meeting. It will look something like this: https://zoom.us/j/88685182?pwd=aPa55w0rd
- Click on the link and this will open a web browser and you will be prompted to open ‘zoom’ to join the meeting.
- Your email invitation may also include a Meeting ID and Password. If you have the zoom app already installed on your device you can click the ‘join’ icon and enter this information into the zoom app (passwords are case sensitive).
- Once you click the link, or enter the ID and password you will see the video of yourself and be asked if you want to join the meeting audio. Click ‘yes’.
- You may then need to wait a few minutes for the clinician to join the call.
Zoom on a PC (the green squares will be replaced by video)
Zoom on a phone (the green squares will be replaced by video).
At the end of the call the clinician will close down the video call securely.
You may receive a telephone appointment. The clinician will ask you questions about you or your child to find out how things are going and provide advice where required. If necessary, you may also receive a follow-up virtual appointment.
It's important to be aware that all telephone calls from us will come from a private number so if you see a call from an unknown number around the time of your appointment please answer it even if you would not normally do so. We do this for data protection reasons as some people might not want others in their household to know that they have had a call from us.
Other teams you may need for your virtual appointment
If you have any worries about harm to you or others then we can arrange to talk with you privately. Please contact our Safeguarding team.
If you have any questions or concerns that can't be answered by your department team then our PALs team may be able to help.
If you require an interpreter we will be able to arrange one but only if you let us know in advance. Please see our Interpreting Services page for more information.
How virtual appointments could work for you
Here are some example patient stories of how real people have managed with their virtual appointments.
Ruby uses Gynaecology services at Birmingham Women's
She is really happy to have a check-up consultation at home because her mobility can make it a struggle to park and walk into the hospital. However she has never used a smartphone video. The staff agreed to have a telephone appointment with Ruby and at the end of the appointment they talked Ruby through the guide on our website. Ruby is going to practice with her son before the next appointment but is reassured that they can revert to a telephone appointment if it doesn’t work out.
Maryam uses Outpatients Clinic at Birmingham Children's
She thinks it might be easier to have a virtual appointment at home because it will save money on petrol and parking. She is a bit concerned that she will not be able to concentrate so well with three children at home. She has followed the advice on our website and will write down her questions beforehand. She has some toys ready for the children and will prepare to be a little early in case anything doesn’t work. She uses FaceTime regularly with friends and family.
Shakeel has services from Forward Thinking Birmingham
He would prefer to talk directly to his psychologist at a Hub and is worried that his regular interpreter won’t be able to join. He received a telephone appointment but wasn’t prepared and his phone wouldn’t accept withheld numbers. His team agreed to write in advance with the next appointment and explaining that he should go into his mobile phone settings to allow the withheld private number, which is a secure feature to avoid anyone else returning a call to his psychologist. The team also booked an interpreter with our Interpreting Services.