Gone are the days when you sat in your doctor’s office for hours waiting for your appointment. Thanks to telehealth, it’s possible to meet with your doctor right in the comfort of your own home.
No, doctors aren’t making house calls, but with modern technology, you can now use your computer to connect to them. A 2018 survey found that almost a quarter of US consumers have had a telehealth visit with a clinician. The number of global telehealth patients grew from 0.35 million in 2013 to a projected 7 million in 2018.
The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction now utilizes telehealth services for its patients. “Before telehealth, we would do a telephone consultation and swap pictures, but now with a link we can see you,” said Gail Lanter, practice manager. “It also has controls that we can turn the camera on your phone and move things back and forth. If an area bothers a patient we can see it.”
The way it works is simple. The patient contacts the office to schedule a Telehealth visit and before the scheduled visit, the staff obtains basic information required to set up your account and grant patient access, including name, date of birth, address, email address, and cell phone number. If you are a new patient, you will be asked for a short medical history and be asked to provide additional documents needed to make the most of your visit. The office will schedule a convenient time for the virtual visit to take place and you’ll receive a notification when the provider is ready. The free PocketPatient™ application is downloaded from the App Store and you’re ready to go.
“You can talk about absolutely everything you might want to know about breast reconstruction,” said Lanter. “Our commitment is to patient education. Knowing ALL of your options and shared decision-making remains at the forefront of what we do and we encourage you to ask our physicians and clinical staff your questions.”
Lanter explains that telehealth especially benefits the Center’s patients who live outside of the area. “We have patients in other parts of South Carolina and in upper Georgia, and now they don’t have to drive all the way down here anymore for a 15-minute post-operative visit. Instead, with a virtual check-in we make sure they are fine. We even have patients who want consultations because they live farther away in Washington or Montana and there are no surgeons there who do what we do.”
Another benefit of telehealth is that the patient can address any dermatology issues too. “A patient may have issues with scarring, wound healing or acne,” explains Lanter. “Telehealth gives our physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners an opportunity to talk to the patients about products that help wound healing or scar improvement.
Telehealth also allows the doctor to see any redness or swelling, but it does have a limitation. “Of course, you can’t palpate an area, which means do the touching part of it, so if a patient has a fluid collection on their breast, we need to coach them on how to feel it and know what they are looking for,” said Lanter.
For more information from The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, call 843-849-8418.