How technology is making new connections
Through the ages, thinkers such as William of Ockham, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein speculated upon “action at a distance,” how natural forces could be transmitted across distances with no physical connections.
If only they could have seen telehealth!
Today’s doctors, spurred by the global coronavirus pandemic, are using telehealth to extend a healing hand to patients who cannot or should not travel.
If those thinkers of the past could see a televisit, they would be impressed. But they might ask how telehealth can work in a specialty like orthopedics, where touching and manipulating a joint or limb is so important.
Not every visit needs to be in person
The answer? While an initial in-office exam remains necessary for diagnosing an injury or chronic condition, telehealth can work very well for many encounters in orthopedics and other specialties.
Stephanie Crum, Clerical Administrator for West Virginia’s Scott Orthopedic Center, explains that staff use televisits for “simple, follow-up calls that really don’t have to have hands-on medical care.”
Telehealth is perfect for preoperative discussions, including education and consent forms, as well as postoperative visits that usually include a few questions and a brief visual inspection. Patients appreciate not having to travel to an office, which can save hours.
Once the doctors saw how effective telehealth was for evaluating range-of-motion issues, Crum said, they were sold.
Taking a balanced approach
Each specialty and provider can take their own approach to integrating the power of medical action at a distance.
During the weeks that Colorado limited travel and contact because of coronavirus, Aspen Valley Hospital did not conduct elective surgeries.
When public health orders were lifted May 1, the hospital resumed those procedures, with initial coronavirus testing outside the hospital.
But during the hiatus from on-site procedures, Aspen Valley Primary Care, OrthoAspen, and the cardiology, ophthalmology, and otolaryngology departments continued to see patients using healow TeleVisits™ from eClinicalWorks®.
Their experience was so positive that they plan to transition to the full eClinicalWorks Electronic Health Record.
A new shape for healthcare
Medical practitioners become accustomed to doing medicine in ways that work well for them, so there can be resistance to trying new methods of care delivery. But high satisfaction with telehealth suggests it is here to stay.
“It’s a whole lot easier than you would think to connect these patients to these doctors,” Crum said. “We have several patients who come hours to our office, two and three hours away. They have taken advantage of that as well, and that is the reason that the doctors are going to continue to use the televisits even after this pandemic is over.”