Virtual visits, or e-visits, have recently transformed the way health care is delivered, allowing patients to get quality care regardless of their geographical location. Telemedicine has made e-visits possible on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, eliminating the need for the patient and the physician to be in the same room for most early Orthopedic evaluations. Secure electronic consultations save patients significant time and money and also offer more flexibility as they can be scheduled at a time convenient to the patient, including after hours, nights and weekends. When it comes to orthopedic consultations, e-visits offer amazing benefits.
e-visits are an ideal option for orthopedic conditions that limit mobility and make it difficult for patients to drive. They can ensure quick, convenient resolution of orthopedic problems. High-definition audio and video can be used to safely assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine problems such as:
- Sports injuries
- Back pain and associated conditions
- Hand arthritis and injuries
- Some Orthopedic trauma
- Hip and shoulder tendinitis and tears
- Achilles tendon injuries, bunions, and foot and ankle injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis), and more
Consults via a telehealth platform allow physicians to work with patients to provide accurate diagnosis and create a treatment plan. They can also make arrangements for specialty care and schedule surgery if needed.
e-visits/Virtual Visits – Ideal Option for Treating Sport Injuries
Telemedicine offers many opportunities for the treatment of sports related injuries.
- Real-time assessment at any time: Athletes can benefit from virtual consults both on and off the field. If an athlete suffers an injury during a game, an orthopedic telemedicine consult will make immediate assessment possible.
- Track rehabilitation: Likewise, video consultation allows physicians to monitor rehabilitation and patient adherence to physical therapy and other instructions. Orthopedic telemedicine practices, such as MoonlightOrtho, can offer on-line physical therapy (PT) consults with a licensed physical therapist. Patients receive exercise guidance via text, pictures and even video for various PT home exercises for their specific condition.
- Training support: Telemedicine technology also enables sports medicine specialists to provide support for training. At their virtual consult, patients may get nutritional advice and answers to other health questions.
A study published in the Journal of ISAKOS: Joint Disorders & Orthopaedic Sports Medicine reported that in a pediatric sports medicine setting, use of telemedicine can reduce costs of care and wait times while increasing patient satisfaction. The researchers found that virtual orthopedic consults offered many benefits compared to in person visits:
- Cut wait times from 30 minutes to two minutes and reduced visit times from 68 minutes to 17 minutes
- Saved patients $50 in travel costs per visit and physicians $24 in labor costs per patient visit
- Scored high in terms of the patient experience, with 99% of survey respondents saying that they would recommend virtual visits to other patients
By leveraging real-time consults for wound care, patients can also avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room and readmissions.
Easy Virtual Scheduling
e-visits can be scheduled in the same way that in-person visits are scheduled. The basic requirements to set up an e-visit are:a webcam and microphone, or any smartphone or other mobile device, a reliable internet connection, and a quiet space. Virtual consults can be conducted from the patient’s home or office and work well for diagnosis, simple follow-ups, routine postop check-ups, surgical discussions, wound checks, and MRI/lab result reviews. In addition to providing patients with many benefits such as eliminating travel time and expense, minimizing missed time from work or school, and reducing contact with other sick patients, e-visits allow Orthopedists to provide cost-effective, patient-centered care.
With the growing acceptance of e-visits, providers should ensure that they have efficient IT support to avoid technology glitches that can disrupt care. Patients and family caregivers on their part, need to be technologically savvy or at least computer literate to use telehealth. Choosing a HIPAA compliant service provider is important for confidentiality of medical records.
It is expected that 2019 will be an eventful year for telemedicine. A www.healthleadersmedia.com report cites Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, American Telemedicine Association as saying that 2019 will see “increasing attention on adoption and engagement of telehealth by providers and consumers”.