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Welcome to the New Age of Health Care: Telehealth

Nov 27, 2020 07:35AM ● By Paul Bernitt

The only thing more difficult than adapting to change is continuing to resist what has already changed. Change is inevitable and necessary, but too often our nature is to keep things the same. As things beyond our control continue to change, we must adapt. The only difference between a flexible and a rigid palm tree is the flexible one remains a tree while the rigid one becomes a pole. A palm tree without the wind can cause it to become rigid, while a palm tree with wind can remain flexible and pliable, enabling it to survive the hurricane. Remaining flexible is key to building resiliency. Building resiliency protects us from things beyond our control.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a lot of uncertainty about how to protect ourselves and others from this new virus. What we did know for certain was those considered vulnerable needed to be quarantined, and those in multi-generational hospitals and nursing homes needed to be quarantined for their sake and the sake of their loved ones. We learned to wash our hands and use hand sanitizer more often. We learned to cough into our arm rather than our hands. Now if we are feeling sick, we stay home. Our daily lives have changed as we practice 6-feet physical distancing and wear protective face masks in public. While COVID-19 has caused a lot of inconvenience, difficulty and loss for many, it has also opened new opportunities to invite available technology to health care.

Telehealth is not new by any means. Remote patient monitoring began in the 1950s, and telehealth began in the late 1960s. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote monitoring and telehealth were widely used in rural areas where there was limited access to medical providers. While telehealth may not be new, the readily available technology is something new to most. Some of the fastest-growing companies are telehealth companies, as people are becoming aware of the ease and efficiency of telehealth.

There are two main types of telehealth covered by most major health plans, including Medicare. The first type is the use of the combination of audio and video for an appointment through technology such as Zoom. We use Zoom at TriVita Clinic of Integrative Medicine. In this method, the patient simply books a televisit on a specific day and time with his or her healthcare provider. After the appointment is booked, an email is sent to the patient by the healthcare provider with a link that the patient clicks on at the appointment time. Once the link is clicked, the patient is connected to the provider, and all the patient needs to do is turn on the audio and video that are clearly marked on the screen. It’s that easy.

The second type is a telephone call. For most primary care appointments, a simple telephone call will meet the requirements for a televisit. Visits such as prescription refills, diagnostic reviews, sick visits, and even new patient and annual physicals can be conducted over the phone. A member of our team will likely direct you to a simple online form prior to a new patient visit or an annual physical. When setting up a phone call, you can visit with your healthcare provider by simply booking the date and time for your appointment. When your appointment time comes, your medical provider will call you and be able to conduct the visit over the phone.

Preparation before a televisit appointment can help ensure it runs smoothly. To make televisits work best, it’s advisable to obtain a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter, a glucose monitor, a scale, and other at-home medical devices. In many cases, your healthcare provider can write a prescription for these items and associated supplies. You can also securely upload medical records to your healthcare provider on our website. Prior to a televisit, you may want to conduct a Zoom meeting with a family member or friend to get comfortable using the technology. Most people who do a video conference call discover just how easy it is to use.

It’s important to keep up with your recommended appointments and not avoid routine medical care for many reasons. This includes going to the lab to get blood work done so your healthcare provider knows your medication is working, and keeping up with prescriptions, specialist visits, annual physicals and other routine care. Your healthcare provider knows what is safe and how to best care for you. Building the trust and rapport with your healthcare provider will put you in the best position to achieve your greater health and wellness.

Paul Bernitt, DHH, is the Director of TriVita Clinic of Integrative Medicine. The clinic offers televisits statewide and continues to provide not only televisits but onsite visits as well. The clinic uses both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local guidelines to ensure safety and security for both its staff and patients. Call 480-337-4148 to book your appointment today. For more information, visit