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TELEMEDICINE: See Your Doctor From Home

TELEMEDICINE: See Your Doctor From Home

TELEMEDICINE: See Your Doctor From Home

If traveling to the doctor’s office, finding a place to park and sitting in close quarters in the waiting room does not appeal to you right now, the good news is that you may not need to. During the current virus pandemic, thousands of doctors nationwide have adopted the use of technology to offer their services to you in the comfort of your home. Telemedicine is transforming medical services.

Since most people have either a smartphone, laptop or tablet computer, existing technology now allows your doctor to meet with you remotely, to diagnose and treat many illnesses and ailments. It may take some getting used to, but it is a good way to further avoid public places and still take care of your health. While video conferencing is not new, it has traditionally been used primarily in business and distance education.

Since older patients may be at greater risk for the COVID-19 virus, the expansion of telemedicine offers them a smart alternative to the office visit. With this in mind, Medicare and a number of major insurers are now loosening some restrictions that previously would not have reimbursed doctors for remote services. Fortunately, here in Louisiana we have laws that require insurance companies to reimburse at the same rate as in-person care for services provided.

The medical community is still trying to determine the future of telemedicine. There has even been some discussion of expanding remote medical care once the current pandemic ends. Overburdened emergency rooms, for example, might benefit by the use of telemedicine to diagnose and treat some patients who need emergency services. People who live in remote areas and must travel great distances to see a doctor might be able to stay home and meet with their doctors electronically. How the future of telemedicine plays out, it appears doctors are increasingly in favor of using it for some patients. The goal is not to replace in person medical care, but rather to enhance it and expand services especially for patients who have difficulty getting to a doctor’s office.

For patients who wear or have medical devices implanted, telemedicine can routinely monitor those devices without the patient being present in the office. This allows the doctor to know if and when the patient needs medical attention in real time. For example, a patient with an implanted defibrillator might receive a call from the doctor to say that irregular heart activity has been reported from the device. That allows the doctor to alert the patient in real time and to immediately determine any needed course of treatment.

How telemedicine will incorporate into the general society after this pandemic remains to be seen, but it is certainly here to stay. Remote appointments were already happening before COVID-19, but not to the extent they are now. Much will depend of the further development and enhancement of technology, and on how adaptable insurers continue to be.

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