How Telemedicine Is Enhancing Healthcare During the Coronavirus
Telemedicine is more important than ever in the era of COVID-19. Learn how many conditions can actually be treated with virtual visits from family medicine doctor Mark Rood, MD.
Since we’ve been staying at home to flatten the curve, our lives — work, school, even happy hours — have gone virtual. So it’s no surprise that virtual medical appointments have seen a huge spike in popularity.
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Telemedicine isn’t new, but it’s been utilized more than ever during this stressful time of quarantine and self-isolation. While virtual visits aren’t the answer to every medical problem, you might be surprised to learn that many conditions can be treated effectively from the comfort of your couch.
Never done a virtual visit? Dr. Rood explains how they work and what to expect.
Getting examined by your healthcare provider via video chat is especially important if you’re experiencing milder symptoms of COVID-19. Staying home with your symptoms is the best way to avoid spreading the illness to healthcare providers or other patients. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, dry cough and a fever, it’s best to seek in-person medical care.
Online, doctors are having consults with patients that cover a number of common illnesses and injuries. “We can treat lots of problems virtually,” says Dr. Rood.
These conditions include:
“We’ve also had patients call with overwhelming stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic,” he adds. “We can help them work through those emotions and connect them to options for ongoing care.”
During your virtual appointment, your healthcare provider will ask about your concerns and symptoms. They might do a visual exam, and look you over for rashes or other physical abnormalities. Sometimes, your provider may recommend that you make an appointment for an in-person test or exam. But in many cases, virtual visits are all you need to address less pressing health concerns.
Patients who are managing ongoing health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis can also benefit from telemedicine. “We can help our patients monitor their chronic conditions remotely,” Dr. Rood says.
You can even buy devices to use at home to measure heart rate, blood pressure and weight. The devices automatically upload the data to your medical chart for your doctor to review. “Technology has really advanced in the past two or three years to allow us to do things we’ve never done before,” Dr. Rood says.
And even if you don’t spring for such a device, your healthcare provider may be able to monitor your symptoms or adjust your medication without an in-person visit. “It’s worth talking to your primary care doctor or specialist to see if they can perform a virtual visit,” Dr. Rood says.
OK, sounds great — but how do you get started? It’s easier than ever, says Dr. Rood. During the 2020 pandemic, the U.S. government has loosened restrictions on virtual visits. You can now access care through:
Virtual visits can be done with a computer or tablet. But it’s usually easiest to use a smartphone if you have one, Dr. Rood says:
Virtual visits don’t have to be cold or chaotic. There are a few things you can do to ensure that they go as smoothly as possible. Here are some helpful tips from family medicine specialist Neha Vyas, MD.