Integrating telemedicine into your practice

Recently a Medical Economics article * noted: “Many primary care physicians worry that the rapidly-growing field of telemedicine is just too complicated and time-consuming to implement in their already busy practices. But physicians who have started offering telemedicine in their practices say there is no need to reinvent the wheel or spend a fortune to jump in on a trend that many believe will improve patient health.”
“Telemedicine in primary care is used for a wide assortment of non-emergency problems for patients who want a doctor’s advice but don’t necessarily need to see him or her right away. Usually a phone call—although rapidly expanding to video conferences—telehealth doesn’t replace face-to-face encounters with physicians. Instead, it can augment the doctor/patient relationship.”
“Telemedicine visits also help triage urgent requests to see a physician when the office is closed, mental health visits required for follow-up and prescription refills, follow up for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and hyperthyroidism. Those visits may require pre-visit vital signs and blood work in advance of the telemedicine consult. Other visits may include lactation consultations for nursing mothers, group visits for diabetes and weight management, and well child exams.”
“We’re just at the tipping point,” Linkous says. “Patients already schedule appointments online, review their lab tests, email their doctors. They take photos of their rashes and email it to the medical office. Remember, most people rarely walk into a bank and deal with a teller these days because of ATM machines. Once patients get used to the new telemedicine system, they won’t go back to the old way of sitting in a waiting room for an hour for a routine problem.”
* to read the full Medical Economics article “Integrating telemedicine into your practice” by Mark Crane, highlight and click on open hyperlink
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Jonathan M. Metsch, Dr.P.H., is Clinical Professor, Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Adjunct Professor, Baruch College ( C.U.N.Y.), Rutgers School of Public Health, and Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration
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