TeleMed could save time and exposure for the patientBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 2, 2020
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What a difference in our world in just a week. The landscape of what was our norm has been totally rearranged. Our norm is an evolving picture with constant changes. We are now under mandatory orders aimed at decreasing the community exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The numbers of people that have been infected by the virus continues to increase daily as does the death toll.
The evolving nature of this crisis demands that we all stop and pay attention to it. It demands that we all must follow these changes and stay close to home.
Social distancing is a new phrase that entered our lexicon three weeks ago and now it is a phrase by which we all live. We know that by maintaining a minimal of six feet between us the spray of saliva that accompanies our words, if we are infected with the virus, has less of a chance of infecting someone else. Remember your relative that sprays you when she talks? This is what we are trying to avoid. Your eyes, nose, throat can be infected that way. Social distancing is a must.
The disruption to our lives has been enormous and disturbing at the same time. We are social beings and it has been refreshing to see how some people have found ways to stay in touch. Social media has revolutionized this and allowed people to reach out and communicate with others. Remember, your older family members and friends may not be as familiar with social media. Reach out to them.
We in the medical field have been utilizing telemedicine technology. This broad term allows us to care for patients without being in the traditional face to face setting of a medical office. The government has loosened the restrictions on privacy so that more platforms may be used during this time of crisis. This is a new medium and many medical practices are just beginning to use it. Secure platforms that ensure patient confidentiality are surely best but usage of platforms such as Zoom and other similar platforms can now be used. Also, use of a cell phone with FaceTime is approved. In cases where visual contact cannot be made, a phone visit is now acceptable.
This type of visit is not appropriate in all cases but if the person is unable to get to the office, especially in this time of social distancing, we are finding greater usage of the telemedicine platform to care for our patients. Some medication renewals are appropriate via telemedicine. Some video visits have been done after labs have been drawn in cases of diabetes, kidney and liver disease. When the patient has self-monitoring devices that keep up with their glucose, a telemedicine visit can be done. I have always advocated for home blood pressure monitoring. Here again if the patient can give accurate information, a telemedicine visit could save time and exposure for the patient.
The way we as medical providers care for our patients during this COVID-19 pandemic is evolving. Call your provider and seek care. Do not let this time of crisis result in your not taking care of yourself. I am sure there is a way. Be safe.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.