The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge for primary care physicians: how can patients get the professional care they need, while also avoiding the risk of a dangerous virus?
The answer, in fact, was the same solution that many healthcare providers have been using for years prior to the global health crisis: telemedicine.
By connecting with patients via video conferencing solutions, or simply over the phone, doctors can provide much of the same diagnoses, routine care and medical expertise that they would during an in-person visit. But without the need to come to the office, they avoid the risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus.
If you’re new to the concept of telemedicine, here’s what you need to know.
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the practice of providing medical care using telecommunications technology. Also referred to as telehealth, it allows patients and physicians to connect with each other remotely, without the need for an in-person visit.
Historically speaking, telemedicine was conducted over the phone. But as video conferencing tools have been far more accessible and universally adopted, physicians are increasingly using live video and audio to enhance their medical evaluations even further.
At Maryland Primary Care, our telehealth services are delivered via a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform, like Zoom for Healthcare, which is simple to use and works on nearly any device.
What kind of care can be provided with telemedicine?
While in-person visits will always be the ideal setting, physicians can still provide a wide variety of care and guidance to patients via telemedicine.
- Evaluating a patient’s current health based on a patient’s stated condition or visible/audible symptoms
- Diagnosing illnesses or injuries based on symptoms and the patients’ medical history
- Prescribing medications, or administering other types of treatment plans
- Screen patients for COVID-19 (or other viruses) and order testing when applicable
- Provide low-risk urgent care for select conditions and refer patients who need additional medical attention
Continuity of care
Keep in mind that telemedicine is not just for patients who experience sudden symptoms. It also helps maintain continuity of care, especially for patients who have chronic issues or are medically vulnerable.
The CDC lists the following additional benefits and uses of telehealth:
- Provide support for patients with chronic health conditions, including weight management and nutrition counseling
- Administer remote sessions for physical therapy, occupational therapy and other modalities
- Provide case management for patients who have difficulty accessing in-person care (for example, those with limited mobility or residences in very rural areas)
- Follow up with patients after hospitalization
- Provide education and preventative care
Additional healthcare tools at a distance
Beyond the video conferencing capabilities, physicians have a number of other tools to help them monitor patients’ health remotely. At Maryland Primary Care, we provide access to blood pressure cuffs, digital scales, blood glucose meters, emergency watches and other tools to gain better insight into the health of those with chronic medical conditions.
Make an appointment
If you have questions about telehealth, or you’re ready to book an appointment, call us today at 301-277-3555.