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What to Expect When Seeing an Endocrinologist Virtually

May 28, 2024 • read

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What to Expect When Seeing an Endocrinologist Virtually

If you have a hormonal imbalance or condition, you may consider seeing an endocrinologist: a medical expert that specializes in hormone health and metabolism. The endocrine system is a series of glands that communicate through messenger hormones to regulate your body’s vital functions like blood pressure and stress responses. 

Some endocrinologists treat everything that disrupts or impacts the body’s hormone balance while others become experts at managing one condition like diabetes, infertility, or thyroid problems.

But, it’s not always easy to see these specialists; with average wait times in Canada to see a specialist hitting 27.7 weeks in 2023, you may consider other alternatives to see an endocrinologist, including virtual care. Virtual care apps like Maple allows you to connect with specialists like endocrinologists in days or weeks, not months — no referrals needed.

Before seeing an endocrinologist on virtual care, it’s important to understand what they do and how to make the most of your virtual appointment. 

Understanding endocrinology and virtual care

Endocrinologists are internal medicine specialists (or pediatricians for pediatric endocrinologists) who must complete six years of residency training after medical school. They focus on hormone health, diseases of the endocrine organs, and diseases impacting glucose or lipid metabolism. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that use hormones to control everything from blood pressure to reproduction.

Some of your bodily functions regulated by the endocrine system are:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure 
  • Growth and development 
  • Metabolism (getting and maintaining energy in the body) 
  • Energy level 
  • Sexual development and function 
  • Reproduction
  • Injury or stress response 
  • Mood
  • Sleep 

The endocrine system consists of a series of glands (hypothalamus, adrenals, pituitary, pineal, pancreas, ovaries, testes, parathyroid, and thyroid) throughout the body that work together by sending messenger hormones to regulate vital functions of the body. Too much or not enough of one hormone can impact other gland functions and affect the body’s functioning. Sometimes these imbalances need help, which is where an endocrinologist comes into play.

Medical conditions that are treated by endocrinologists can include:

  • Diabetes including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (in pregnancy)
  • Thyroid problems like over or underactive thyroids, goiters, thyroid masses, or nodules
  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome 
  • Menopause
  • Cholesterol problems
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Growth hormone deficiency 

Maple can connect you with specialists like endocrinologists to help diagnose and manage these complex medical conditions, weight loss specialists, or dietitians to help craft a nutrition plan right for you. 

Preparing for your virtual endocrinology visit 

To set yourself up for a seamless virtual visit and connection, you may want to ensure you have a few things in place: 

  • You have a strong internet connection. 
  • You are using a device you’re comfortable texting with; all practitioners on Maple begin the appointment over text 
  • If you choose to connect via video, make sure you use a device with a webcam and microphone such as a smartphone, computer, or tablet. 
  • If using a mobile device, download the Maple app in the Apple or Google app store.

To prepare for your visit, you may want to gather information like: 

  • Notes documenting your presenting symptoms. 
  • Any recent investigations like recent blood test results, ultrasound reports, or bone density results.  
  • Home glucose monitor results or home blood pressure readings.
  • Notes on your diet and lifestyle habits and any changes you have made to these habits recently. 
  • A list of all of your medications and doses as well as any supplements you take.
  • Any questions you may have for your provider. 

What to expect during your visit 

Below are the steps for connecting with an endocrinologist or other medical professional like a doctor,  nurse practitioner, or other specialist: Endocrinologists are on-demand and typically seen within 24 hours. 

  1. Input your location and choose your provider
  2. Pay for your visit (or membership, depending on province). 
  3. Explain your symptoms or health-related concerns. This is the information-gathering step. Based on what you provide, you may be asked more questions (about past medical history, family history, medications, dietary and lifestyle habits) to better prepare the healthcare provider for the appointment. 
  4. You may need to verify your identity before entering the virtual waiting room. You will be provided with an expected wait time.
  5. Begin connecting with your healthcare provider via text. You or the healthcare provider may request a video or audio call. 
  6. Your provider will enter any relevant diagnoses, investigations, or prescriptions into the chat. 
  7. If you receive a prescription, you can have it sent to a pharmacy near you for you to pick up or have it delivered straight to your home.

Follow-up care 

Similar to visiting with a specialist in person, towards the end of your appointment, you and your provider will discuss a plan. Your plan may include:

  • Tests for you to complete, like bloodwork or an ultrasound. 
  • Starting a treatment regimen that could include supplements like Vitamin D, calcium, or a new or changed prescription medication.
  • Certain lifestyle changes such as sleep routines and physical activity.
  • Any referrals to other specialists or healthcare providers such as dietitians, weight loss, or sleep specialists
  • Discussing when an appropriate follow-up appointment would be if it’s needed. 

Additional resources and supports:

Here are some organizations in support of endocrine system disorders: 

Canadian Addison’s Society 

Canadian Society of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology

Diabetes Canada 

Hypertension Canada

Menopause and u 

Obesity Canada 

Osteoporosis Canada

Thyroid Foundation of Canada 

Women’s Health Collective Canada 

The information presented here is for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the advice from your medical professional. Virtual care is not meant for medical emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency like chest pain or difficulties breathing, for example, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

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