HOUSE CALLS ARE BACK --- VIRTUALLY
Article written by Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a cardiologist and associate professor at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center who recently published this in the local paper.
“She said that she has been practicing medicine for 20 years, and has never made a house call.
But now she is making virtual house calls every day. She can no longer perform a physical exam, study or test, but for established patients, she can review symptoms and answer questions.
She can make small medication adjustment and refill prescriptions. She can tell by looking if patients are short of breath or uncomfortable and direct them to the office or emergency department if necessary. “The greatest surprise of the video visit has been new insight into my patients’ lives that only a house call would provide. As their faces zoom onto the screen, she can catch little glimpses of their worlds; a coffee mug, a plant, a piece of art, a refrigerator covered with magnets holding up family photos, stairs to the lower level apartment where a grandparent lives. The occasional dog, child or spouse also makes their appearances. The harsh realities of loneliness and poverty confront her as well. She appreciates more deeply the obstacles patients face—what it takes for them to get out the door, schedule transportation or child care, pick up medications. “ “Video visits aren’t ideal for every appointment, but maybe, in the absence of old-fashioned house calls, they are essential for some visits. Patients who might have missed visits in the past, because they forget, don’t feel well, or couldn’t make the commute, can still be seen virtually at a moment’s notice. A virtual visit in better than no visit.” “Telemedicine isn’t going to recede after the Covid wave passes. It is here to stay. Our job as doctors is to allow it to improve the doctor-patient relationship. Covid 19 has taken much from us, but it has given us back the connection to our patients.”
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