Can you see me now?
Doctors Kildare, Ben Casey, Martin, Marcus Welby, “Bones”, House, and McDreamy. All names that conjure up images of physicians who have appeared on our TVs over the years. Although we aren’t currently watching any medical programs, a doctor did indeed appear recently on our screen—well computer anyway—and we were on his at the same time in his office about a mile (1.6 km) from here. Walking there wouldn’t have been a problem but avoiding one more potential exposure to the coronavirus, especially in a compact waiting room, made the decision to try this extreme version of “social distancing” an easy one. We had each received an email from the French health authority encouraging us to schedule a checkup that we might have delayed because of the lockdown, which was certainly true in our case, and that was the extra push we needed to schedule an appointment.
Télémédecine (health care via video) has been available in France for at least two years but we’ve never had the opportunity or incentive to use it. Gratefully, neither of us has any health concerns so an annual in-person exam has suited our needs well. We make our appointments back-to-back so that we can go into the exam room together in case one of us understands a question better than the other. On the way out of the office we present our national health ID card (Carte Vitale), pay the 25€ per person fee, and then check our bank account 4 days later to confirm that we’ve each been reimbursed 70% of that fee. Many people pay for top-up insurance to cover that additional 30%, but for 7.50€ once a year, it’s not worth it to us.
To make the appointment we went to the Doctolib website https://www.doctolib.fr/ where we had previously set up an account. There we each chose a convenient date and time, and within seconds had received email confirmations. While making the reservation you can upload any documents that you want the doctor to see and you pay the 25€ consultation fee with a debit card as you are checking out. Our appointment times did not immediately follow each other but it was no problem for us to both sit in front of the computer at the same time during the visits.
The morning of the consultation we each received an email reminding us to log back into Doctolib to join the teleconference. We were ready with answers for the anticipated questions of current weight, blood pressure, and in these days of Covid-19, temperature. We even knew our blood oxygen level thanks to a tip from other bloggers who had lived through contracting the virus and found that having an oximeter at home gave them comfort while recovering. With the exams concluded, the doctor wrote out a prescription for the yearly blood work that’s performed at a separate clinic, anticipated emailing them to us, and wished us a good day.
What did we think? Bill’s consultation went without a hitch while I was only able to see a blurry image of the doctor and hear a chipmunk speaking. He then telephoned me, and we continued on from there. Our blood work prescriptions never arrived so we ended up going into the office after all to pick them up. Oh well, at least we’re set for another year and by then hopefully things like masks and distancing—meters or miles—will be a distant memory.