Telemedicine as an Alternative
Another way to bring patients back is by continuing to offer telemedicine, otolaryngologists said. Dr. Sale said his practice communications have been emphasizing that a patient’s healthcare needs don’t stop because of a pandemic. Telehealth visits are available for patients who are truly afraid to come in, which he says works well for first-time patients, to figure out what their needs are, and for follow-ups.
Explore This IssueAugust 2020
“The elderly, nursing home patients, and immune-compromised patients are justifiably fearful of coming in, so we will provide tele-otolaryngology,” Dr. Setzen added. He explained that he uses telemedicine as a triaging tool.
Dr. Pynnonen said the increase in her telemedicine appointments is a silver lining of the pandemic. Return telemedicine appointments last 15 minutes, while appointments with new patients last 30 minutes. “I love providing virtual visits to patients, to see them in their home. It seems like a more personal connection,” she said. “It’s their space instead of my space, creating a different opportunity to connect with them personally. It also focuses that visit on me listening to them and gives me more space, time, and emphasis to provide some education. I think that’s been really valuable.”
Stephanie Cajigal is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.