What is Telemedicine
Dr. Karen Burnett
THE NEW WORLD OF TELEMEDICINE
by Karen Burnett, MD
Telemedicine, telehealth, E-visits, E-health, Patient Portals….what in the world does this mean? Technology has opened the door to a new way of practicing medicine. Whether it’s by phone, video chat, email or texting, telemedicine refers to the broad range of medical services that are enhanced by using technology. Doctors have been using computer based systems for many years to reach communities that would otherwise have been forgotten. According to the Baltimore Sun, July 5, 2002, a surgeon at The South Pole surgically repaired a patient’s knee cap with the help from surgeons located in Boston, MA via two-way satellite hook up!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s easy! Your provider calls, you answer, the visit ensues! These visits can be held over the phone or over a video application Both parties would have to have the same app downloaded on their device. Your provider will tell you which application to use.
DOES INSURANCE PAY?
Most insurance companies, including Medicare, are covering televisits. System requirements and applications covered vary per plan.
WHY USE TELEMEDICINE?
During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders telemedicine allows providers to continue to offer visits while keeping the patient safe at home and the provider safe in the office.
Telemedicine is the wave of the future. For working people who cannot leave the job site, setting a time for the provider to call can be a convenient way to get your visit done on your terms. The busy mom would not have to bundle up all 3 kids into the car to get to the doctor’s office to look at just one kid’s rash. The elderly or the immunocompromised patient would not have to sit in the waiting room risking infection. Some prescriptions can even be refilled with telemedicine. Your provider can tell you whether an in office visit is necessary.
We know the virus spreads on the droplets on our breath; the reason why we ask people to practice social distancing (stay 6 feet away from one another.) For the time being, Red Hook Family Practice, Yacht Haven Family Practice and Cruz Bay Family Practice have converted our non-urgent and follow up visits to telemedicine visits and are limiting the waiting room to only one person at a time. By doing this, we limit the exposure of our patients and staff to the coronavirus.
If you feel like you need to visit with one of our providers please call our main line at 340-775-2303 and a telemedicine visit will be offered. However, if it is deemed appropriate for an in person visit, that can be arranged as well. After all, sometimes you just need to look a person in the eye!
Stay Safe St. Thomas and St. John!