Is it wise to visit my primary care doctor via telemedicine?
First let’s talk about what telemedicine is.
The terms telehealth and telemedicine have been used interchangeably but actually telemedicine is a type of telehealth service. Both use communication technologies to provide health care from a distance. The earliest telehealth service was hospital-based in the late 1950s. In the 1970s some devices helped monitor patients remotely at home – and the advances continued.
Telehealth refers to a broader scope of remote health care services. Telemedicine is more specific to clinical visits at a distance using two-way communication.
The last 15 years broadband internet and smart devices became more popular, and telemedicine expanded steadily. Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine advanced rapidly. If you have a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with a good internet connection you can access a telemedicine visit. Most acute and chronic conditions can be diagnosed, monitored, and treated via telemedicine.
Telemedicine is under the same requirements as office visits for compliance with state and federal laws using best practice guidelines to provide safe patient care.
Let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of telemedicine.
ADVANTAGES of telemedicine:
- Can treat 90% of your acute or chronic health conditions.
- Is an efficient and cost-effective way to treat your chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, asthma, depression, anxiety, and others. You can be monitored closely to discuss lab results, tests, diet, medications, lifestyle, and more.
- Can reduce your health care spending by decreasing medication misuse, unnecessary emergency department visits, and hospitalizations. You also save higher costs of untreated health issues.
- Is convenient if you’re a busy professional, or just can’t miss work. If you’re in college and can’t miss school. Also, if you’re on vacation and don’t want to wait forever for an in-person visit.
- Is convenient if you have transportation problems or childcare limitations and you’re a busy mom. You can have your visits from home or from another location.
DISADVANTAGES of telemedicine:
Telemedicine is not for you if you:
- Have an emergency situation and need immediate in-person care.
- Don’t have access to a smart device with internet connection.
- Can’t navigate the technology and you don’t have anyone to help you.
- Need a cardiac evaluation with EKG reading, lab tests right away, heart auscultation.
- Have uncontrolled COPD or asthma, you need lung auscultation and oxygenation checks for better assessment, you may need a nebulizer treatment and steroid injection.
- Need a neurologic assessment including checking reflexes.
- Need assessment for diabetes-related neuropathy.
- Have any condition that you feel more comfortable seen a healthcare provider in-person.
You also need to keep in mind:
- Telemedicine visits are vulnerable to privacy and security risks. Telemedicine platforms are required by law to be highly encrypted and in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and regulations. But there is no 100% guarantee of safety from hackers or data breaches.
- Possible technical difficulties during the visit, you may lose internet connection, your video or microphone may stop working.
- Internet bandwidth may affect the quality of the image making overall observation inaccurate. Especially neurologic and skin assessments. This can result in your provider making clinical treatment decisions potentially inappropriate.
- Some missed opportunity to find out undiagnosed hypertension. So, you have the responsibility to check your blood pressure at home.
- Some missed opportunity to find out an irregular mole, a soft tissue mass, or a heart murmur.
- Reduced intimate doctor-patient relationship, as you miss the touching, shaking hands, hugging, etc.
Is it wise to have my primary care doctor via telemedicine only?
The short answer is – It’s not for everyone, but many people can benefit from having a primary care doctor, your healthcare provider, via telemedicine only.
In medical and nursing school we learn that over 80% of diagnoses are made on history alone. The patient history is fundamental for his overall healthcare.
In a good in-person annual wellness physical, your healthcare provider spends only 5-10% of the visit performing your physical exam and 90-95% of the visit in history taking and education.
At FeelWell Telehealth your annual wellness physical includes:
- Taking your comprehensive medical and family history.
- Reviewing your medications, including over the counter medications, vitamins, and supplements.
- Ordering medication refills as needed.
- Assessing your health and the progression of any degenerative health conditions.
- Reviewing your diet and your exercise activities and providing counseling as appropriate.
- Assessing your lifestyle status, and your high-risk for serious diseases.
- Assessing for alcohol, tobacco, other additions, and high-risk behaviors.
- Assessing for sleep disorders and mental health issues.
- Counseling for birth control options and STD prevention.
- Writing orders or reviewing screening tests such as lab work, mammograms, DEXASCAN, Colonoscopy, Cologuard, ultrasound, other images as appropriate.
- Sending referrals for specialists in-person, such as GYN, urologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, gastroenterologist, as needed.
- Reviewing immunization status and checking online with Florida SHOTS and providing counseling for recommended vaccines. (You can get the shots at your local pharmacy).
- Making your plan of care considering your feedback.
- And more as necessary.
Most patients with existing conditions have had good physical examinations by their specialists. But if you need an in-person physical exam we have partnerships with colleagues who can see you.
Have you missed your annual wellness physical for a few years due to lack of time?
We’re here for your annual wellness physical via telemedicine.
Besides your annual wellness physical, you may need follow-up visits for a chronic illness. Also, if you have an acute illness, we’re here for you. As you don’t waste time on travel and waiting forever in the doctor’s office, it’s more likely you will have your follow-ups as needed.
What we treat:
- COVID acute or long infection, vaccine counseling.
- Mental Health, anxiety, depression, panic attack.
- Vaginal Infections, yeast infections, STD, PrEP for HIV.
- Birth control, menstrual issues, urinary tract infections (UTI).
- High blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid, high cholesterol, sleep apnea.
- Respiratory infections, sinus Infections, sore throat, cough, cold sore, mouth lesions, asthma, strep throat.
- Allergies, bronchitis, cold, flu, conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), sinusitis, headache/migraine.
- Acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, digestive issues.
- Gout, insect bites, rashes, acne, rosacea.
- Muscle pain/pulled muscle, sports injuries, sprains, and strains.
- Wellness exams, screening exams orders such as lab work, mammograms, DEXASCAN, Colonoscopy, Cologuard, ultrasound, other images as appropriate.
- Vaccination counseling checked on Florida SHOTS, etc.
- Prescription refills.
- And many more…
What we don’t treat:
Emergency situations such as severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, stroke symptoms, severe bleeding, serious injury, drug overdose, suicidal thinking. For those and other severe cases call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
We neither prescribe nor refill controlled substances.
FeelWell Telehealth healthcare providers go the extra mile taking care of you and caring for you.
We offer all the advantages of telemedicine as mentioned before and much more:
Our Direct Primary Care model offers Concierge VIP treatment.
- FREE meet and greet visit to find out if we’re a good fit for you.
- Text messages or quick calls between visits.
- Easy access to your provider 7 days a week with extended hours from 6am to 10pm ET.
- Healthcare providers who speak your language and understand your culture.
- Lower cost, since the visits may cost about the same as your insurance co-pay or if you don’t have insurance, the visit may cost less than as in-person visit.
- Premium personalized care, your visit is not rushed, you have time to feel heard.
- Access to a network of partners in several specialties, and you can be referred for an in-person visit.
You may find that you prefer having us as your primary care doctor via telemedicine.