Telemedicine. How to get the most from your telemedicine visit. And, pros and cons to this technology.

What is telemedicine?  Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology (telephone or videochat) to provide, enhance, or expedite healthcare.

Benefits of telemedicine?

  1. Convenience…for both the patient and the physician.  The patient does not need to leave home or work, find childcare, or travel to the medical office to get personalized medical advice.  The physician can use the time in the office more efficiently and use technology remotely or at odd hours (nights and weekends).
  2. Safety.  In this pandemic time, this decreases the patient’s exposure to other possibly ill patients in order to see the physician.

Drawbacks of telemedicine?

  1. Less personalized.  You and your physician are not in the same location which may decrease the connectedness of the visit.
  2. Less ability to appreciate the patient’s physical findings.  A joint exam may be difficult to perform well by having the patient do the exam themselves while the physician watches.
  3. No ability to perform procedures.  Need an abscess lanced? An IUD placed?  An ear drum visualized?

How can you prepare for your telemedicine visits?

  1. Find out from the front office staff what app the video chat is on?  Then, get a link to download it.
  2. Test the app (FaceTime? Zoom? Doximity) before the visit.
  3. Have a comfortable spot in your home that’s well lit and with little background noise in mind.
  4. Make a list of concerns you would like addressed
  5. Have your medication bottles nearby
  6. Keep your log of blood sugars or blood pressures to review with the physician
  7. Can you take your temperature, weight, or blood pressure before the visit?
  8. Do you want to discuss recent labs or imaging?  If so, ask the medical staff to confirm the results are in the chart before the visit.
  9. Be ready!

How can you best use your time with the physician?

  1. Confirm a backup form of communication.  If you have an alternate phone (landline or cell) give that to the physician in case your connection is lost.
  2. Please have a loved one in on the visit just as you might if it were in person.  They may add important details to the health history and will aide you in remembering the plan afterwards.
  3. If the visit is for your child, please have a parent/guardian with them for the visit to help with history and performing parts of the physical exam so the physician can visualize it.
  4. At the end of the visit, repeat back to the physician what you understand is the assessment and plan (if you will have a lab order mailed to you or faxed to your lab or if there are changes in medication).  We want you to be engaged and fully understanding your health plan.

I hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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