By Dr. Amar Shah, owner, VitalCare Family Practice in Chesterfield, Virginia.
Coronavirus has forced practices nationwide to undertake dramatic changes in how they practice medicine. But whatever the means we use to deliver care, there is still nothing as dramatic as saving a life.
Although I had been thinking about and planning to use telehealth for about a year, the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic left me with no choice. I recognized that there was no way to safeguard my patients or staff if I kept my office open.
I still had some reservations. Would patients use telehealth technology? Would they accept it? Most importantly, would telehealth allow me to deliver the same quality as an in-person office visit?
The answers came quickly and clearly. With healow TeleVisits from eClinicalWorks, getting started was simple and easy for my staff. Patients were thrilled to have a way to receive care without having to risk exposure to the coronavirus by traveling to my office. We transformed our more than 20 daily in-office visits to more than 20 televisits in just 10 days.
Saving a patient’s life via telehealth
And my remaining doubts about the efficacy and quality of remote care were erased in a single encounter.
I was meeting with a new patient who was complaining about vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. When I asked him to show me what the vomit looked like, he placed a jar containing black vomit in front of the camera.
I immediately knew that he was suffering internal bleeding and instructed him to get to a hospital. His wife ended the call and took him to the ER, where he was admitted. The bleeding was stopped and he received a transfusion.
Five days later, we had a follow-up televisit. He was in good spirits and told me that his life had been saved because of that first televisit.
Transforming the practice of medicine
As a family physician who sees patients from infancy to age 100, I have always focused on making each patient encounter as personal and productive as possible. Seeing patients face to face and delivering the highest quality care to them is at the heart of medical practice.
While I had some fear about moving forward with televisits before the COVID-19 pandemic, I now realize that technology can enable us to hold what are, in effect, face-to-face visits — without sacrificing the quality or personal nature of the encounter.
What’s more, televisits mean we can break down barriers to care, whether those barriers are transportation limitations, child care duties, work commitments, or — as the world has seen these last few months — a dangerous pandemic.
Telehealth is here to stay
I can still provide the highest quality of care to my patients — prescribing medications, treating disease, and even saving lives.
For any provider or practice that wants to continue to provide care during these difficult days, I recommend healow TeleVisits. For my practice, telehealth will be not merely an adjunct to care but a prime method of serving patients — throughout the coronavirus pandemic and during the brighter days ahead.