With the threat of exposure to the coronavirus now increasing in the United States, isolation from the public is being encouraged for potential patients, and so is a new way to see a physician.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, going to your doctor could expose you further to the germs that could carry the coronavirus or you could expose someone else to COVID-19.
Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients online. Dr. Waqas Ahmed, the senior founder of AmericanTelephysicians said telemedicine is a proven concept that gives patients safe access to their physicians.
“Traditionally, it has been for patients who are in the rural areas only, but in reality, if you see a lot of patients who live in the nursing home or the rehab centers, it’s very hard for them to go to the office to see the patient,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said most insurance companies are now paying for telehealth services as respiratory illnesses and the flu are overburdening medical practices. Through a video chat format, patients can explain their symptoms to their physician, after their doctor reviews key information about the patient's medical history.
“Before the encounter even starts, I would like to see as much information about your previous history (as I can) or what medications you’re taking, so the platforms like ours, Smart Clinic, is enabling physicians to adopt that technology so you, as a patient, can enter all the information, upload your reports, take a picture from your phone,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said digital devices like a stethoscope and autoscope are currently being used, and new devices are in the making as the telemedicine gains popularity. He has this message for people who may be skeptical of seeing a doctor online, rather than face to face:
“People never thought they would be using smartphones and iPhones,” Ahmed said. “There was a time when people would write letters, then email, text messaging and now video conferencing. … I think the younger generation of physicians, as well as patients -- millennials -- that will be the future.”
Ahmed said advances are being made to have prescriptions mailed directly to people’s homes. Of course, being diagnosed with coronavirus requires a test that can be administered by the health department if a telemedicine physician suspects that is necessary.
Ahmed said the option of seeing a doctor the first time online benefits everyone involved when it comes to exposure.