Sunday, March 29, 2020

Telemedicine , The Right Way

An emergency declaration from the State of Texas has made it easier for physicians to take care of patients during a time where routine clinic visits pose substantial risk of infection spread.  A host of well marketed telemedicine organizations, some promoted by your insurance company have swooped in, attempting to fill the gap.  They are missing one crucial element - YOUR doctor.  

Adapted from the Texas Medical Association, here are answers to common questions on the patient side:

1. What technology do I need for telemedicine?
Texas law says that  telemedicine services can occur through:

  • Real-time audiovisual interaction between you and the doctor (for example, a simple digital camera on a laptop or a desktop with secure broadband internet);
  • For many, a "Facetime like" interaction can take place with your doctor using a simple downloadable app on your smart phone
  • A telephone only consultation for new or follow-up patients may be appropriate in some circumstances
2. Are initial in-person visits mandatory?
No.  For some medical conditions, the standard of care has always been in office visits.  In office, we have the opportunity for a more comprehensive exam and additional testing to evaluate lung disease.  However, given the risk of infection spread in offices, emergency rooms, and urgent cares, even initial visits can take place through telemedicine.

3. Can the patient be at home for a telemedicine visit?
In short, yes. The new state law removed the requirement for a clinical place of service, as long as the standard of care is uncompromised.  Keeping you at home improves the chance of flattening the curve while still providing you access to a board certified medical specialist.

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