As video consultations are beginning to be more likely than face to face, here are some suggestions for how to get the most out of one.

1. Make time and space

Discussing your fertility is very personal. Therefore, make sure you are in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed.

Since the first lockdown, I have had telephone consultations with patients who are out shopping, on the bus and even while fixing a roof! As you might imagine, none of these have been particularly useful for either party.

One benefit of a video consultation is that you can have be in the comfort of your own home. Attending a doctors office can be intimidating, but if you’re sat on your sofa with a cup of tea it can be far more relaxing. This is beneficial for both the doctor and patient.

2. Attend as a couple

Unless you are planning to conceive as a solo mum, you’re only half of a couple. To get the whole story, it’s important you both attend the consultation.

Fertility problems affect both of you and tests, treatments and babies involve you both too. Clinics should always involve both partners in the consultation and it is much easier to have the conversation together rather than having to relay information later on.

3. Check the technology works

Find out which platform will be used for the consultation. Try it out using the device you are planning to use, in the location you are planning on sound the call.

Some clinics use Zoom or Teams, but other platforms you may not have used previously such as Attend Anywhere or Heydoc.

You want to be able to concentrate on the things important to you during the consultation, and not be worrying about the WiFi connection.

4. Have relevant documents to hand

If you have had previous consultations or tests elsewhere try and get a copy to the clinician beforehand. Most clinics have a secure email address you can forward them to so the doctor has them to review before the appointment.

The next best thing is to have results to hand during the consultation so you can tell the doctor, or hold the paperwork up to the camera.

Some clinics may require you to show photo ID before the consultation so check the requirements and have your passport or driving license ready.

5. Prepare your questions

The doctor will have a list of things they need to ask so they can make an appropriate assessment. But this is your time. It’s likely that during the consultation your mind will go blank and you forget the questions you want to ask. Typically, as soon as the consultation ends it will pop back into your head.

Therefore it’s worthwhile making a list of them beforehand to jog your memory.

6. Take notes

Medical consultations can be wide ranging and often complicated. Doctors are notorious for using jargon and fertility is no exception.

Most clinicians will provide you with a summary letter once the call has ended, or even a copy of your medical record. Nevertheless, this may not be as easy to understand as you would like.

One tip is to take notes as you go along and then summarise things in a note after the consultation has ended to get things clear in your mind.

We hope you find these tips useful. Please share any more useful tips you have in the comments.

Authors

Editor in Chief

Matt is an NHS Consultant in Newcastle with over ten years of experience. His PhD research into subfertility and miscarriage involved developing a clinical trial and patient engagement.