The New Era of Telehealth & Telemedicine Visits: Part 2
To read more about preparing for our telehealth visit with the neurologist, read part one of this article series.
Lights, camera, doctor’s visit
The medical office sent an email to Karl with a Zoom link to enter the telehealth appointment. Karl and I needed to log into the Zoom chat 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled appointment time to meet with the nurse.
Although we were familiar with using Zoom, we decided to enter the room an extra 5 minutes early to insure we had no difficulties logging in. We also made sure to have water, the completed forms that we had electronically sent to the office, any additional questions for the doctor, and paper to take notes available.
The nurse entered the chat and asked Karl about his submitted medical forms. She reviewed his medication regimen and asked if he needed refills. She also asked for his weight and his blood pressure, which we had just checked with a home monitor. When she was finished, she asked us to wait for the doctor to arrive in the meeting room.
The doctor will see you...NOW!
Our wait for the arrival of the neurologist was about 10 minutes. Once he entered, we exchanged our normal greeting and the doctor commented on how much he liked our kitchen. You would not hear that comment at a “normal” face to face appointment!
The neurologist reviewed Karl’s forms and asked him how he was feeling. Then he asked Karl to stand up and do some of the usual Parkinson’s tests (finger tapping, hand flipping, nose touching, and more). He also asked Karl to take a few steps away from the camera, turn around, and walk back. Since Karl’s medicines were working well and his walking was smooth, he had no problems with these tasks.
If we had not chatted about our kitchen design and discussed Karl’s coping with the quarantine, our time with the neurologist would have been about the same length as at the office. Karl’s neurologist commented that he too felt more relaxed and had more quality time with his patients since he could see them in their homes.
The benefits of telehealth visits
Overall, we were impressed with the quality of this telehealth visit. For a simple maintenance checkup, it was great! The benefits were significant – no driving, no dealing with heavy traffic, less stress for patient and caregiver, and no rushing to get to the appointment! We were able to connect with the neurologist - just as we do at an in-person visit.
For years, as Parkinson’s disease advocates, Karl and I have pleaded for US lawmakers to make telehealth/telemedicine covered by insurance and available for all.
Since we have now experienced the benefits of a telehealth visit, I hope these visits will continue, and be covered! Telehealth visits will not be suitable for every healthcare scenario, but if telehealth can improve self-care and reduce some of the stress, that is a win for us all!
The only thing we may miss, as Karl remarked later, are the out-of-date magazines in the waiting room.
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