The Big Benefits of Telemedicine Appointments for Podiatry
In the last few months, telemedicine has become more popular with patients and doctors across the country—for obvious reasons, of course. If you want to keep your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 to an absolute minimum, you can’t do much better than not leaving home at all.
Still, it’s natural that you might still feel a little skeptical about the whole process—especially if you’ve never tried it for yourself. Does it really work? How much attention can my doctor really give me over video? Isn’t this just a poor imitation of a real doctor visit?
Certainly, it’s a different experience. And we won’t deny that some things are just impossible over video. We can’t give you a remote injection, for example, or provide laser therapy from across town.
But while certain procedures obviously still require an in-person visit, telemedicine also has some huge advantages, too—including those you can’t get as easily in person. Sometimes a telemedicine appointment might actually be a better choice, and often patients who have gotten more comfortable with the process prefer a mix of appointment types to suit their needs.
Let’s look at some of the biggest benefits.
Limiting Contact with Others
This is the big one we mentioned above—and the reason why so many practices (including ours) made telemedicine a much bigger part of their practice than ever before this spring.
Simply put, there are situations when it’s really best for all parties that you stay at home and minimize your contact with others. If you are currently sick, or are in a high risk group and contracting COVID-19 (or other infectious diseases) could be especially dangerous, you probably shouldn’t be out and about if you can help it.
The great thing is that, thanks to telemedicine, this does not mean you have to put off seeing an expert about your foot or ankle condition! We can make a visual examination, answer your questions, review previous test results, make home treatment recommendations—actually, there’s a whole lot we can still do for you even if you aren’t physically present with us!
Even we determine that you do need a physical product we carry, like a shoe insert, supplement, or cream, we can recommend or prescribe it during the telemedicine appointment and then you could come pick it up (or have someone pick it up on your behalf).
More Convenient Scheduling
Probably all of us know the stress and difficulty of trying to rearrange our schedules to fit in a doctor visit. Often, even routine care visits can mean time off from work, figuring out childcare, figuring out transportation, and other frustrating inconveniences. And even if your work affords you flexibility with your schedule, it still often means staying late to “make up” the time.
Being able to have your appointment over video can significantly streamline the process. Deleting the commute alone can save you a ton of time and make it much easier to slot a workable appointment, potentially even on a lunch break.
Improved Access Overall
Of course, sometimes being able to find a workable timeslot is really only part of a larger issue of access and mobility.
Some of our patients are geographically isolated, and would have to make substantial drives from well outside the Dayton area to reach an appointment.
In other cases, a physical disability (whether directly related to the foot condition we’re treating or not) may make it a huge challenge to get to the office quickly, easily, and safely.
Telemedicine bypasses these challenges, provided you have a good Internet connection and are physically located somewhere in Ohio. (Current state licensure regulations prevent us from conducting telemedicine with patients located out of state—for example, snowbirds or people on business trips or vacations—but we are hopeful that such regulations can be relaxed in the future.)
Quick Access to All the Info You Need
How many times have you gone to the doctor’s office and realized you forgot your insurance card, or a typed-up list of questions you planned to ask the doctor?
Or really, any time you go to the doctor’s office, get asked a question, and go, “Shoot—I don’t remember right now but I know I have that info at home.” Or, “My spouse has that info but I don’t.” Or, “I wish I had brought a notepad with me.”
Well, with telemedicine you’re very likely already home and probably have easy access to tools, aids, records, and people who can help. No more forgotten paperwork! Also, if family members are home and you are comfortable having them in the conversation with you, they can help you take notes, ask questions, and remember important details on your behalf.
It’s Just Easier to Stay on Top of Preventative Care (and Stay Out of the Hospital)
This is sort of the culmination of everything we’ve written previously.
A lot of people, unfortunately, drag their feet (figuratively, and sometimes also literally) and wait until the last possible instant to call a doctor about a problem. And that could be for any of the reasons above, or others. If scheduling or getting to an appointment in person is inconvenient, frustrating, or even risky, chances are you just won’t do it unless the situation approaches emergency levels.
The problem is that when you don’t catch small problems early, don’t check in with your doctor when you really should be doing so, and don’t get the care you need promptly, those “small problems” have a tendency to become major ones.
By drastically lowering the barriers to care, telemedicine makes it easier than ever to check in regularly, not put off preventative exams or skip follow-up appointments, and keep your feet and ankles as healthy as possible.
In other words, even though we can’t perform direct treatment over video, timely telemedicine appointments can keep those treatments from even being necessary in the first place.
Telemedicine Can Accomplish a Lot
It’s easy to get hyper-focused on what telemedicine can’t do, because that’s the first place your mind probably goes when you think about visiting a doctor over video.
But it would be a huge mistake to gloss over some the things we still can accomplish via telemedicine, including:
- Visually inspecting your feet or ankles
- Following up with you on a treatment program or post-surgical/post-treatment review
- Virtually sharing diagnostic images and test results for review
- Answering any questions you have about your foot and ankle health
- Making treatment recommendations.
There are even some situations where remaining at home for your appointment is advantageous. We’ve already talked about the benefit of having access to your records of having others on deck to take notes for you. Another example? You could show us your living environment or your shoe collection, and we can make recommendations on changes you could make to keep your feet and ankles safer from injury and pain.
Getting Comfortable with Telemedicine
If you’d like to learn more about telemedicine services from Sunshein Podiatry Associates, including:
- What you’ll need beforehand
- What kinds of procedures and appointments work best for telemedicine
- What you can expect on the call
- How to set everything up
… you can do so by reviewing our telemedicine page. It’s packed with great info and answers to these and other questions, so it’s a good place to start.
We know that telemedicine isn’t something most of us are used to, and getting comfortable with the idea may take time. But there are also many huge benefits—and once you become familiar with it, you may find that having telemedicine as an option actually helps you get the care you need faster and with less stress than ever before!
If you need to schedule an appointment (telemedicine or in person), or you have a question that isn’t answered either in this blog or our service page, please feel free to call and ask at any time, or contact us online. We are here to help!
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