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Telehealth receiving rave reviews from patients, doctors

Topic: Telehealth receiving rave reviews from patients, doctors

When the pandemic first churned, we drew comfort from telling each other how being stuck at home was allowing us to get back to the important things and people in our lives.

By now, we are pretty over that philosophy and would love to get back to our old normal, although that won’t be happening any time soon.

Our new normal, however, is not all bad.

Take telehealth, for example. Raise your hand if you just can’t wait to get back to your doctor’s office.

Yeah, that is not high on the love-to-do list. At least you can credit good old COVID-19 for introducing many of us to the wonders of telehealth, which has physically separated us from having to leaf through dog-eared copies of “People” while trying to avoid the hacking person sitting next to you.

Telehealth is not a new concept, but it has gained serious traction in the age of coronavirus.

Telemedicine not only minimizes transmission risk of the virus, but it is also nice and convenient, and saves on gasoline, too. It is here to stay, even after the pandemic.

“Many of our patients like seeing me this way,” said Dr. Edgardo Hernandez Pons at Family Medical Services in Melbourne. “The patients are able to stay home and not wait in a waiting room with other sick people. They feel very safe.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth can be delivered synchronously using real-time telephone or live-audio video interaction through a smartphone, table or computer, or asynchronously, with secure “store and forward” technology typically used in patient portals that store messages, images and data to be interpreted and responded to later.

Remote patient monitoring, which allows direct transmission of a patient’s clinical measurements, can also be part of the telehealth picture.

Although many insurances still do not cover virtual visits, Medicare does, and that is a good thing, since telehealth is particularly beneficial to vulnerable seniors.

However, problems can arise when the patient is not technology-savvy, as some seniors tend to be.

“They need to know how their phone works and what app they need to use in order to make this happen,” Pons said.

At Family Medical Services, the staff walks the patient through the telehealth procedure and conducts a test call to see everything is working.

Five minutes before the scheduled appointment, the staff will call the patient to remind them to be ready for the doctor’s call.

When appointments are made, the staff will inquire about symptoms. Patients can send questions, pictures and list of medications ahead of time through the patient portal to save time during the virtual visit.

Topic Discussed: Telehealth receiving rave reviews from patients, doctors

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