Telemedicine is more important than ever. With the uncertainty the COVID-19 has bestowed on the world. We are being forced to rethink how we interact with each other, and conduct business on a daily basis. This extends to how we interact with our healthcare providers. With telemedicine in healthcare, there are ways that you can interact with your doctor and still receive the care and advice that you need without leaving your home. Dermatology is a visual field that is well suited to take advantage of the convenience and efficiency of telemedicine tools. With telemedicine, you are able to set up an appointment and use your internet enabled device to have a face-to-face appointment with you doctor. Your dermatologist will be able to see your skin, answer your questions, and give advice about what to do next in your treatment plan, without being in the same room as them. Since this technology is relatively new, people may not know much about how it works. Here are a few important concepts to know about telemedicine and how it is done:
- Synchronous versus asynchronous appointments:
There are two main types of telemedicine appointments that you can schedule with you doctor, synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous telemedicine appointments involve both parties to be online at the same time having a live session that includes both audio and video components. Essentially, this means that you are able to video chat with your doctor in real time and discuss your concerns with them, just like you would in a face-to-face appointment.
Asynchronous telemedicine is a term used to describe store-and-forward transmission of medical images and/or data that is recorded by the patient and then sent to the physician over a secure web server, encrypted email, specially designed store and forward software or electronic health record. Once the physician receives the information, they can assess the patient’s concern and send back their diagnosis, treatment, and recommendations back electronically or fax their recommendations. This means that a patient is able to record themselves with their questions and concerns and send this to their physician and wait for their recommendations. The difference between this and synchronous telemedicine, is that asynchronous encounters do not occur in real time, as where synchronous encounters happen in real time.
- Digital platforms:
Telemedicine software is a sector of health IT that focuses on delivering clinical healthcare via secure audio and video connection. These platforms are the means in which you can interact with your doctor and discuss your concerns with them. There are numerous platforms in which you can interact with your physician via telemedicine. Mobile applications (we use Chiron and Hale at Fivenson Dermatology currently) can be downloaded onto your computer or mobile device and securely run your virtual appointment with your physician. This is similar to popular apps like Facetime, What’s App, Skype but with all the necessary security to protect our personal health information
If you are interested in doing setting up a telemedicine appointment at Fivenson Dermatology, you can request a virtual appointment here.The rise of these applications makes telemedicine easier than ever and it offers great convenience for patients. This encounter is ideal for patients who are not able to make to the office. This includes people who cannot leave their place of work, taking care of their children, or not able to leave their homes. It also allows people to get the advice of physicians that they trust while they are out of town, and still need advice about their skin. Insurance coverage is still variable but growing (temporarily it is much more widespread due to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with relaxation of the HIPAA privacy rules)