When I look back to when I was an 8-year-old boy thinking while talking on the phone to friends and family how amazing it would be to see their faces as we talked. At the time I never thought this was a realistic proposition for the general public. Now here we are in 2020 and you can have a comprehensive remote audio and visual visit with your medical provider via telemedicine!
According to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), telemedicine or telehealth refers to the exchange of information from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient’s health. Its use involves any interactive audio and visual telecommunications system that allows real-time communication between a medical provider and the patient at a remote site, such as a patient’s home, place of work, or even automobile.
Telemedicine has become far more prevalent in the last few years. Its beginning dates back at least 70 years. In the 1940s and 1950s physicians in Pennsylvania and Canada started to send radiology images to other sites via telephone lines for shared care of patients. The first use of audio and visual telehealth dates back to 1959-1965 when the University of Nebraska established a two-way television for use in educating medical students and video consults with patients in a state hospital. In many rural areas of the US where certain medical specialties may not be available within a reasonable geographic traveling distance, telemedicine can help bridge the gap via a provider-to-provider consult or a provider-to-patient visit.
Though telemedicine has been in use for a number of years, its use has increased significantly by providers in a great variety of medical specialties recently due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. As it has been strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus, telemedicine provides an invaluable way to be able to communicate with your medical provider regarding any chronic or acute medical condition that needs treatment.
As one may imagine, there can be some limitations to receiving care via telemedicine vs. an in-person visit. One is not able to provide hands-on listening to heart and lungs or examine a spine or extremity. However, with many chronic and acute conditions, an adequate examination may be performed with face-to-face telecommunications. During these very unusual conditions that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, the benefits obtained by not delaying care with your medical provider for any medical condition that may present itself greatly outweighs any limitations that this mode of treatment may have.
You will want to schedule a telemedicine appointment with one of your healthcare providers soon. We highly recommend taking advantage of this technology to have such a visit with your doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant while in the comfort of your own home. All insurances now recognize and reimburse these visits. There is no special equipment needed other that a smartphone or desktop/laptop or tablet that has a video camera and microphone. If you need any assistance, offices are more than ready to help. Hope to see you soon.
Andy Conboy, PA -C
East Flagstaff Family Medicine