In my newest blog post, I'd like to talk about how COVID-19 and Governor Jay Inslee’s “stay-at-home” and social distancing requirement has changed the practice of clinical medicine. All across our country, medical practices are turning toward telemedicine or telehealth to stay in communication with patients throughout this trying time. Fortunately, we are in the Golden Age of social media and person to person connectivity. During the 2020 “stay-at-home” period, today’s society has been in a unique position to maintain social contact despite physical distance.
This is quite different from any other quarantaine that has happened throughout history. Medicine has similarly been gifted with this touchless delivery of health care. Initially, when the COVID-19 crisis began, I was reluctant to turn to telemedicine as I was unfamiliar with its use and benefits and I myself prefer a person to person visit.
However it grew increasingly clear that my practice didn't have a choice in the matter. To equip my practice to handle telemedicine, I selected an application that was easy to use, didn’t require download or installation or cost to patients and one that had a simple user interface. Additionally it was important to find one that has clear audio and visual despite connections that may be occasionally suboptimal. I found that during my practice of telemedicine that patients were happy to have virtual visits available and that I was still able to connect person to person even without physical proximity.
There are some challenges to diagnosis, as I’m unable to examine thoroughly, to palpate the back or shoulders, or perform a straight leg raise for sciatica via telemedicine however I am able to ask the patient to perform these maneuvers if required for diagnosis.
Going forward, it seems as though patients who have been introduced to telemedicine as an option find it acceptable and virtual health visits may be here to stay to some certain extent. Many of the patients’ health insurance companies are turning toward telemedicine as a covered service whereas before the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, this was not an option for many patients. Social distancing, at least in the relative sense, may be here to stay and will remain an essential tool for many offices.There are certain situations in interventional pain management where telemedicine can be used for interval follow-up visits depending on patient preference and appropriateness of the situation. However, long-term, there may always be a necessity for face to face visits for a thorough physical examination and developing a human connection.
My goal, regardless, is to make that human connection through whatever route is possible. I will always strive to do the best I can for my patients with the tools that I have available.
Please feel free to contact our office at 425-998-7884 or visit our website at https://www.bellevuepainwellness.com if you think that you or family is affected by an acute or chronic pain condition and set up an evaluation, or https://www.bellevuepainwellness.com/contactus to send us a message.
Bellevue Pain and Wellness is a premier pain clinic serving the Seattle Bellevue area with top pain doctor Dr Robert Bowers.
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