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How Telemedicine Fits into the COVID-19 Era

Although COVID-19 and social distancing is on the top of everyone’s mind and furloughs part of today’s normal, life goes on. Kids continue to play and get cuts and bumps; allergy season has kicked in and household mishaps still require attention. You want to see your doctor, but with shelter in place orders in effect, if it isn’t an emergency, you’re supposed to stay home. Not to mention the fact that you don’t want to expose yourself to the virus unnecessarily.

You want to be safe, but you also need a (medical) professional opinion. What can you do? This is where telemedicine comes in.

What is Telemedicine?

The American Academy of Family Physicians defines telemedicine as using technology to deliver medical care at a distance. Telehealth encompasses a broader scope of care. It includes the telecommunications services and technologies used as part of distance medical care. Other terms used to describe this form of practicing medicine includes e-health, mobile health and digital medicine.

What are the Benefits of Distance Healthcare?

Telemedicine is not new. If you have a family doctor that you see for allergy and asthma medications, prescription refills for blood pressure, or other chronic condition, you may pick up the phone and ask him or her to call in a refill. You know the symptoms, the medication is taken at particular times, from daily to seasonally and the condition is established. This is a basic form of telemedicine.

Although COVID-19 has brought more attention to telemedicine, there are many people who have been using this option, such as:

  • Patients in rural areas without a nearby doctor
  • People who need medical care when traveling
  • Individuals who have limited transportation, time or movement

You didn’t go to the doctor’s office for a physical exam, but you still get the medical care you need. Many insurance plans today have a remote healthcare option. In many cases, it’s less expensive than going to your family doctor and you don’t need to wait days or weeks for an appointment.

What is Telemedicine Missing?

Up until recently, distance healthcare has focused on the communication side of the equation. However, in some cases, there is no replacement for examination. Clinical grade devices are slowly filling this void so that virtual appointments can be more than a video call. A high-definition inspection of tonsils, and ear canals can provide direct visualization. Software can help obtain basic vitals.

However, both the remote appointment and telemedicine devices have one thing in common. They take a snapshot and determine what is happening now. While the data is accurate it doesn’t provide a full picture of your health. Having your medical history available for the doctor can give them the information he or she needs to provide higher quality care.

Importance of Medical History in Telemedicine

When a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse can access your medical history, they see more than a sore throat, earache or sinus infection. They might see that you often have strep throat and have built up a tolerance for the standard medication, so you may need something stronger. If you’re sensitive to specific medications, a lower dosage may be better than the normal dose.

Your medical history is about more than allergies and blood type. It’s the story of your life, from a medical perspective. If you take several medications regularly, your family physician already knows about them, but a new doctor won’t. With access to your electronic health records and medical history, a telemedicine doctor or a health professional at a retail clinic can provide the comprehensive care you need, quickly and efficiently.

The MyLifeID card allows you to create and carry your Comprehensive Patient Profile in your wallet or purse so that you can access and share your Medical History and Personal Health Records when and where you need. Learn more about Telemedicine and the Missing Link at MyLifeID and You.

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