The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives and routines in so many ways, but one of the areas where it’s really caused changes is in the way we communicate with our doctors. If you’d never experienced or even heard of telemedicine before, chances are you’re familiar with it now. The pandemic forced medical practices to quickly figure out how to best use technology to provide patient care while practicing social distancing. Telemedicine provides a method of offering medical care remotely, usually through video chat. It looks like it’s not going away anytime soon and will likely have a lasting impact on the way doctors care for patients.
Why telemedicine? Doctors typically use telemedicine to assess whether or not a patient needs treatment in person, provide certain kinds of medical care or therapy (i.e. – mental health treatment, speech therapy, assessments of minor infections) or write prescriptions. Like everything else, some patients really like telemedicine as an alternative to in-person care while others dislike talking to their physician virtually. However, there are some overall benefits including:
- Slowing the spread of infection: Telemedicine eliminates the risk of picking up an infection at the doctor’s office. This is particularly important for people with underlying conditions or weak immune systems.
- Convenience: Telemedicine allows people to access care in the comfort and privacy of their own home. For those with limited mobility or disabilities, this can be particularly beneficial.
- Improved Access to Care: Telemedicine makes it easier for older adults, as well as those who live in rural locations to access needed medical care with commuting long distances.
Be prepared. As with in-person visits, it’s best to be prepared before speaking with your doctor. There are a few things you can do to make sure your virtual appointment goes as smoothly as possible. For example, make sure you’re available before your appointment to answer any questions from your provider’s office. Place your clean, dust-free phone, tablet or computer on a level surface in a room without glaring light (for example, don’t sit in front of a window). Also, make sure you’re in a quiet room without background noise. It’s important to keep in mind that the audio may be delayed on your end or your doctor’s. Keep the pace of your conversation a little slower and allow more pauses after speaking, so you and your doctor don’t miss any information.
Communicating with loved ones. While it’s impossible to predict when and how much telemedicine will be used in a post-pandemic world, it’s likely that it will be used more frequently than before the pandemic. Is your loved one currently using telemedicine to communicate with their doctors? If you’re finding it challenging to be with them during appointments or for other caregiving needs, Assisting Hands is ready to help. Our services are available throughout Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County and Northern VA. Call us at 301-363-2580 and let’s discuss your needs.