In a World Full of New Normals, Is Telehealth Right for You?

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By Wendi Rank

As a longtime nurse, my mom is distrustful of telehealth, a popular option since COVID reared its ugly head.

But my dad, an octogenarian with Parkinson’s disease, is better off seeing his doctors from home. A tumble in June landed him in the emergency department. Three weeks later, a cough, body aches, and a lost sense of smell bought him a coronavirus test.

His test, fortunately, was negative, and his emergency visit was necessary, but can’t his routine check-ups be handled by telehealth?

My mom is a firm “no” on that question. Despite our shared profession, I haven’t changed her opinion. Even when I told her she was wrong.

So now I handle my dad’s telehealth visits. It’s my mom’s adorably subtle way of telling me I never should have maligned her opinion.

Faye Flam, writing for Bloomberg, weighed in on telemedicine. Emergencies, screenings, and procedures need to be handled in-person. And some insurance companies, in a holdover from the pre-pandemic days, don’t cover telemedicine.

Enough protective measures have been instituted in hospitals and doctors’ offices that the risk of contracting COVID through them looks marginal. And if infection rates have dropped, as they have for Montgomery County, in-person visits may not be all that hazardous.

Some in the medical field are even waving a red flag about overtreatment, whether with medications, screenings, or procedures. This should be a discussion with your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

But some, like my dad, are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they develop the disease. Even people like my mom may be better off with telehealth, to protect the at-risk individuals sharing their space.

Flam suggests any tracking of coronavirus exposure due to contact with healthcare be used to shape telehealth recommendations. As a healthcare provider – and a daughter forced into managing telehealth visits – I suggest discussing any concerns with your doctor. Providers can help you assess what’s safe, what can be delayed, and what is urgent.

My dad’s doctor favored a telehealth visit last week, which went very well. He was prescribed medication, and a needed consult was ordered. Even better, my mom was at the dentist for the three hours I sat with my dad.

Why three hours? Because my mom told me the appointment was at noon.

It was actually at one.

Yeah. I’m suspicious of that dentist appointment too. And the error in the appointment time. Don’t we all know she was just exacting revenge on me for contradicting her opinion?

Whatever you do, do not send her this article. I’ll be in even more trouble, and I just don’t have that kind of time.

Find Flam’s full article here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendi Rank is a Willow Grove native with a graduate degree from LaSalle University. She has worked as a school nurse, a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She has previously written for the journal Nursing.

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