1. What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the practice of delivering medical care to patients who are not at the same site as the treating provider. This can be done through various methods: live video visits, sending of photos, and email via patient portal. At the moment, our practice is starting with live video visits due to the technology that is available at this time, but may expand to other modalities in the future.
2. Why should I opt for a telemedicine visit at this time?
At this point, given the current COVID-19 emergency, it is recommended that everyone practice social distancing to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Telemedicine may prevent patients who are at a higher risk of complications if they were to get COVID-19 from unnecessarily entering a health care facility when their needs can be met remotely. It can also reduce asymptomatic transmission of the virus. In this way, we can help "flatten the curve."
In addition, reducing the number of patients that are seen in the office allows us to minimize the use of gloves and masks which are in very short supply and are critically needed in hospitals and facilities on the front lines of treating patients with COVID-19.
3. What types of skin problems can be addressed with a telemedicine visit?
- Poison Ivy
- Other skin rashes
- Wound checks
- Hair loss
- Medication refills
- Selected growths of concern (in some cases, growths may not be able to be diagnosed remotely given the limitations of the telecommunications technology)
4. How do I arrange for a telemedicine visit?
Our practice is currently taking appointments for live video visits. These visits will begin on Tuesday March 24th. If you would like to schedule a visit, please call our office between 8 and 4:30, Monday through Friday.
5. Will my insurance cover it?
More and more insurers are covering telemedicine visits to encourage patients to seek care from their home during the COVID-19 emergency. The list is rapidly changing so please contact our office for full details. If your insurance does not cover the visit, you may be able to pay out-of-pocket for the service.
6. What do I need to have at home to do a live video call?
To do a live video call, you need the following:
- Either a smart phone or tablet with a camera (for example, an iPhone or iPad) or a computer with a webcam, speaker and microphone. Using a smart phone or tablet may provide better image resolution than a computer webcam.
- Broadband internet access is preferable, but live video calls can also be conducted over a cellular connection.
- Being in a well-lit room during the call will allow for better images.
- It may be helpful to have an assistant if possible who can point the camera to areas that need to be examined.
Initially, we will be using a free third party service to facilitate video calls. We will send you a link to click on via your preference of email or text message. This will connect you to your provider at the designated time. No special apps are required. At some point in the future, we may change to using an app that links directly to our electronic medical record system. Will will let you know which method to use to connect with your provider in advance of the appointment.
If you do not have access to these technologies, it may be possible to arrange a telephone-only visit. Please contact our office for details.
7. Are there any risks or limitations to telemedicine?
There are potential risks to this technology, including interruptions, unauthorized access and technical difficulties. The health care provider or patient can discontinue the telemedicine consult/visit if it is felt that the connection is not adequate for the situation. It may not be possible to diagnose certain rashes or growths via telemedicine due to image quality.
8. What if I need a prescription?
If you and your provider decide that a prescription is necessary, this can be sent via electronic prescription to the pharmacy of your choice (including mail order pharmacies).
8. What if I need a procedure?
Procedures obviously cannot be performed via a telemedicine visit. At this point, however, the government has instructed health care providers in all specialties to delay all non-essential medical and surgical procedures until further notice during the COVID-19 outbreak to preserve essential resources that are in short supply. Dermatology procedures that are included in this recommendation are cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, most skin biopsies and excisions unless there is immediate threat to life, and treatment of most skin cancers, including basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, and early melanomas (stage 0 and I). If a procedure is felt to be necessary due to a life-threatening condition, the provider will discuss possible arrangements to perform the procedure with the patient.