An educational platform for NYITCOM Medical Students to discuss and learn about Telemedicine and its role in healthcare
What is Telemedicine or Telehealth?
It is the remote and virtual practice of medicine. It was initially practiced in remote and underserved areas, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, more health care providers were forced to continue their practice remotely. Remote patient interactions can take place using a secure and private portal or web-based platform in which the patient and health care provider can freely and readily communicate. With video chat capability, the patient is able to see the doctor and vice-versa.
How does it change patient interactions and clinical visits?
With telehealth, a patient does not need to travel long distances to see a doctor. Distance is no longer a limiting factor. Healthcare providers can virtually interact with patients and vice versa, regardless of location. With TeleMedstudent™ and TeleFellow™, medical students and physicians-in-training can also participate in these encounters (with the permission of the patient). However, these interactions still lack the benefits of direct patient contact (i.e. palpation, auscultation, and percussion). Advances in telemedicine (a specialized telehealth system with diagnostic equipment) is helping to remedy the limitations of telehealth.
Is Telehealth as good as a regular visit?
No but, when an in-person visit is not possible, it is the next best alternative.
What are some Telehealth tips that Healthcare Providers can use to improve their virtual visits?
1. Prepare for the clinic by reviewing the past records and any test/consultation results in advance.
2. Patients should receive a reminder and confirmation of their Telehealth visit and be allowed to share their preferred method of contact (smart phone or email).
3. Patients should be given a window of time (10 min for example) to connect via internet. If that fails, they will be contacted via phone. If they are still unavailable, they will need to reschedule their appointment.
4. If possible, patients should provide recent vital signs including weight, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and O2 saturation.
5. For device clinics, please see if your patients with implantable devices have sent a recent transmission. If yes, please review it. If not, they should transmit a report a day before the visit. Similarly, if they have an Apple Watch or other ECG recording device, those strips should also be sent.
6. Document patient's consent to participate in the Telehealth visit. Also document the time and method of the visit (example: more than 50 percent of the time was used for discussion, education, and counseling).