We’ve been hearing a lot more about telemedicine lately, and with good reason. With COVID-19, it has emerged as one of the best (and safest) ways for doctors to deliver care during the pandemic—without the worries and risks of face-to-face visits. But if you haven’t had a telemedicine visit yet, you may be wondering what it is and how it works. Plus, can it actually replace seeing your doctor? As someone with more than a dozen years of experience using telemedicine with patients, I’ve seen its upsides and downsides. Here are the most important things I believe you should know.
WHAT IS TELEMEDICINE?
While telemedicine has surged in popularity during COVID-19, it’s not a new concept. Virtual visits by phone (hence the name telemedicine) originated back in the 1950s as a way for doctors to conduct telephone visits for patients in remote areas of the country. Now, as technology has changed, it has expanded to not only include doctor visits by phone—but by video conferencing and even text. One of the biggest upsides of telemedicine is that it’s a real timesaver. Patients like the fact that it saves them the time of driving to the office and sitting in the waiting room. Plus, they don’t have to take time off of work or worry about childcare. As a doctor, I also like the fact that it allows me to monitor a patient’s progress more readily.
HOW DOES A TELEMEDICINE APPOINTMENT WORK?
In many ways, a virtual office visit feels a lot like an in-person visit. Usually, the patient calls or video conferences in and waits in the virtual waiting room until I join the line at the appointment time. For video appointments, I use a secure HIPPA compliant platform that protects patient privacy.
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