A Patient’s Guide to Telehealth during COVID-19
Many of your physicians may begin to schedule telehealth visits in place of regular, face-to-face visits over the next several weeks. This is a safety measure to reduce exposure of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) to patients, healthcare staff, and our community. We understand this may be the first you are hearing of telehealth or, it may be the first time you have to use telehealth. We want you, the patient, to feel comfortable for your telehealth appointment so we’ve provided answers to questions you may have.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth refers to a physician’s use of telecommunications technology to evaluate, diagnose and care for patients at a distance. For example, a doctor’s visit that is done using video conferencing over the internet.
How is it used?
Telehealth is often used for primary care visits, however, given current the public health situation telehealth is being widely used to reduce face-to-face contact unless necessary. This is to protect both the patient, healthcare team, and the community.
What are the benefits?
Safely practice social distancing – When you see your doctor on your mobile device or computer, you don’t have to leave your home, and will have fewer interactions with others.
Eliminate child or elder care issues – If you have the responsibility for caring for children or older adults, finding someone to help can be a challenge, and bringing them with may not be the safest option. Telemedicine lets you see your doctor while managing your family responsibilities.
Less exposure to illness – We are taking measures to keep patients and staff from passing illness to each other. With a video visit, there’s no chance that you’ll catch something from another patient or staff member.
Precision of Telehealth
Not every medical situation is appropriate for a video visit. We are evaluating patient telehealth visits case-by-case and will only schedule a telehealth visit when it is a safe and effective option. Rheumatology patients often require regular lab work to supplement physical evaluations. Your physician may begin with a telehealth appointment and request that you come in for a face-toface appointment or to complete lab work, if necessary. We are taking every precaution to minimize your exposure to others and will only request your presence if it is medically necessary. Infusion patients should continue their regularly scheduled treatments, unless their physician informs them otherwise.
Privacy & Security
Your health, safety, privacy and security are a top priority. We are using technology designed specifically to protect patient information and meet the strict standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA for short.
Doxy.me is the technology platform that our office uses. All data is encrypted, patient sessions are anonymous (Doxy.me doesn’t know who you are) and no patient information is stored.
CMS sent out an official notification extending telehealth services to all Medicare patients during the COVID-19 emergency. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, commercial health insurance companies are also required to provide coverage for services related to the evaluation and management of COVID-19, or related services that may include inperson or telehealth provider visits with no cost sharing, prior authorization or medical management requirements.