TELEMEDICINE BENEFITS: PATIENT’S “CONVENIENCE & SAFETY” TOP THE LIST

From a Permanente.org online article (May 11, 2020):

“Our patients are glad we offer telehealth options because they don’t want to come to the medical centers. This allows them to stay home and stay safe,” Dr. Lee says. “Before, telehealth was a choice and convenience, but now it’s one of the ways patients remain healthy with social distancing.”

The majority of telehealth visits are phone appointments, but Dr. Lee says video usage is increasing as more patients become comfortable with the platform.

Telehealth can also include services such as remote patient monitoring, which allows patients to take blood pressure measurements and blood sugar readings at home so that their care teams can monitor ongoing health conditions. In the case of the Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States region, doctors also use telehealth to do rounds virtually for patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Patients at higher risk for complications are given pulse oximeters so their doctor can monitor for signs of severe respiratory infection before other symptoms might indicate a need for additional care, including hospitalization.

COMMENTARY

TELEHEALTH is HERE TO STAY. It came in with the telephone, and has been gaining in recent decades. The distancing and Patient convenience so characteristic of Telehealth made it a natural fit for Covid 19, which has accelerated its’ adoption.

Your CLINICAL HISTORY, led by the Story of your Present Illness, has since time immemorial been the MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT leading to accurate  DIAGNOSIS. During a TELEMEDICINE VISIT, your doctor must make the MOST out of your clinical history. She can’t do a proper Physical Exam, although she can usually see you, and maybe direct a SELF exam. Teledata, such as EKG,B.P., and blood sugar will become increasingly available.

Your Doctor can usually get enough information to order Lab work and Imaging; and prolix ordering can be tempered, since a good HISTORY of the PRESENT ILLNESS, systems review, past and family history can narrow the diagnostic possibilities considerably. The pressure of time and demanding computer Records may lead the overworked Doctor to use Lab Tests to make up for insufficient Medical History.

Integrated medical systems, such as Kaiser, can also easily access your past medical information, one of the advantages of having everything under one roof.

Informed Patients, SELF-EDUCATING themselves from the vast trove of medical information on the internet (and maybe DWWR) can author their own MEDICAL NARRATIVE, or at least make the Doctors job easier.

—Dr. C.

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