Communicate with patients prior to their telemedicine visit. Send them information on how to prepare for a video appointment, symptom checklists, and relevant discussion guides.
Utilize anatomical graphics and patient education materials during a telemedicine visit to replicate in-person interactions.
Access disease education, patient-facing product information, patient savings/coupon programs and other materials to support the diagnosed patient.
Disclosure: Contributors to “Telemedicine Pearls” were compensated for their contribution under a consultancy agreement with Salix Pharmaceuticals.
Telemedicine has revolutionized numerous medical practices including my own. It offers convenience for patients inclusive of working professionals, parents responsible for childcare, those with travel issues who have been challenged in the past with scheduling in-person appointments. Personally, it also affords me more flexibility to connect with patients. While I prefer to conduct new patient visits in the office, follow-ups that do not necessitate a full physical exam can now be scheduled as telemedicine appointments. Patients have been more responsive and prompt in signing in for a remote encounter than arriving on time for in-person office visits resulting in a smoother daily workflow.
Conar Fitton, M.D.
New Orleans, LA
Telemedicine has provided access to healthcare for millions of patients. Today most Americans have access to smartphones and computers making telemedicine widely accessible. Having a platform to continue providing patient care has been beneficial for both patients and providers. My experience with telemedicine has been an enjoyable one. I love being able to connect with my patients in the comfort of their homes. I am able to provide education and visual aids giving them reassurance and helping them to manage their chronic conditions. This helps to ease their concerns. It’s wonderful to see families gather together and support their loved ones during virtual visits.
Carol M. Antequera PA-C
Physician Assistant, Division of Gastroenterology
The concept of conducting an effective physical exam virtually may sound counterintuitive, but in many cases, it can be done. As a pain specialist, it was vital for our team to have this protocol in place during the pandemic to assess patients with back and neck pain remotely. We ask the patient to strategically place the camera at a distance that allows for a full-body view and then take them through a functional assessment that can be monitored for range of motion and reports of stiffness or pain. With the help of simple household objects, we then also take the patient through a neurological assessment. Establishing a consistent procedure that accounts for the inability to physically touch a patient experiencing pain can help mitigate the challenges of a virtual visit.
Neel D. Mehta, M.D.
New York, NY
Compassionate patient care is needed now more than ever. Telemedicine gives patients the opportunity to interact with healthcare providers in a new way as we are all facing similar challenges. Providers should remember that patients are inviting us into their homes and lives. Listening is key to establishing trust and understanding through a platform that is so unfamiliar. Using clear communication with open-ended questions can allow the patient to express how they feel. The provider's response through telemedicine should acknowledge and validate the patient’s concerns. Key terms such as “I understand”, can be powerful words to a patient in distress. Although a physical exam is not possible, we should help the patient clearly state their physical symptoms. Staying attentive and using empathetic facial expressions throughout the visit can show our patients we are here to work together to provide the utmost care, even if it is virtually.
Mackenzie Jarvis MPAM, DMSc, PA-C
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
What makes a telemedicine appointment a good experience for my patients is proper preparation, and the medium itself. When I have the relevant data for the visit, and the patient is prepared to discuss their medical issues, we can talk and have an excellent visit and avoid many obstacles including the requirement to drive to the office, parking, etc. For the patient, this type of appointment feels personal, planned, and productive.
Paul J Gaglio, MD, FACP, AGAF, FAASLD
Director: Hepatology Outreach
New York, NY
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