The Ultimate Guide to Telemedicine
In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’re all coming up with creative ways to stay safe. This mostly involves finding more ways to stay in our home, but what does this mean for doctors’ appointments? Many offices have started practicing telemedicine. Telemedicine is something that many of our patients have questions about, which is why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you navigate it seamlessly.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, or telehealth, is the distribution of healthcare services and information that is done over the internet and technological platforms. Previously, it was most popular for doctors and patients to conduct appointments in a long-distance scenario, for example, if a patient got sick whilst traveling. A telemedicine appointment may include anything from a chat thread with a healthcare worker, to virtual exams done over video conferencing. During the current pandemic, this scope has broadened to include patients near and far. This practice is more important than ever before due to the increased safety that it brings to both patients and healthcare workers.
There are three main branches of telemedicine. First, there is “store-and-forward” which is mostly the digital transfer of photos and written information between doctor and patient or amongst different medical staff. This is more commonplace in the daily routines of many practices. This method heavily relies on diligent patient records and history logs. The second type is remote monitoring, where a patient can self-regulate under the virtual supervision of a professional via messaging, calls, or videos. This type is most commonly used for the management of chronic health concerns such as diabetes or heart disease. Finally, there are interactive services. This is where a doctor can examine you virtually using a combination of questions and history referrals. You can actually receive a diagnosis using this method.
Pros and Cons of Telemedicine
Like anything, there are upsides and downsides to telemedicine. It does us a world of good when it comes to conversations and the transfer of information, but it still has some limitations.
Pro: Increased Patient Safety
Since we’re all supposed to be social distancing and staying out of the public, doctors’ visits could potentially put you at risk. By staying home and having a virtual appointment with your doctor, you are limiting your exposure to other patients who could be sick, and also protecting them if you happen to be asymptomatic.
Con: Limited Patient Experience
There are still some things that simply cannot be done over a virtual interface. Things like bloodwork, procedures, and physical exams are not possible via technology. While you may be able to get so far with telemedicine, some things will always require a doctor’s touch.
How Virtual Doctor’s Appointments Work
Not only is it better for patients, but it also saves time and resources. You get to save yourself the hassle of going into the doctors’ office, and healthcare workers won’t have to use unnecessary resources. You can get adequate medical care just by opening your laptop. Most of the time, the appointment centers around an informative conversation with your doctor. This can happen in a text chat format, but more commonly, the doctor will be in a video chat platform similar to Zoom or Facetime. You can explain any issues or concerns you may have, and they can in return provide you with information, insight, and advice about how to manage the situation. There can also be increased communication between doctors and patients due to screen sharing capabilities. This consultation can not only open up an important dialogue about your health, but it can actually lead to a potential diagnosis. Your doctor may explain a course of action to you over this virtual appointment, and you can follow instructions to stay on course for recovery.
Increasing Safety for Healthcare Workers
Not only is telemedicine good for the patient, but it’s also good for doctors and healthcare workers as well. Seeing patients virtually allows doctors to expose themselves to fewer people, and therefore keep them safer. Materials such as gloves, masks, and other protective equipment can also be saved by not seeing as many patients in-person. Right now, healthcare workers are one of the most valuable global resources, so we all need to do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy.
Telemedicine and Your Heart
Certain patients are even more vulnerable during this pandemic, and heart disease patients fall into that category. It’s more important than ever for heart disease patients to stay healthy and away from public spaces, so telemedicine appointments are the perfect solution. Cardiovascular Group has a team of dedicated doctors who are ready to protect you and the public during this difficult time. Our practice is now offering telemedicine appointments to ensure that your health doesn’t suffer during isolation. Visit us online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org