The Franks live in Bakersfield, two hours away from Dr. Voelker, a neurotologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Diane Frank chose to have her daughter see a physician so far away because of the ability to have all of her ear, nose, and throat care handled under one roof, including hearing-aid fittings, social service needs, and other medical care. But even with that convenience, every visit is a complex undertaking.
Explore This IssueNovember 2020
On a typical day, even with nursing care, it takes two hours to get Skylar ready. Appointments are strategically scheduled for mid-morning to allow preparation time while keeping the visits early enough to limit fatigue. Her bag must be packed with all her supplies, including those for her feeding tube and incontinence, along with her 20-plus medications. She needs to be catheterized every four hours.
But one day, Diane Frank found an otoscope online, ordered it, and snapped a picture inside Skylar’s ear—a move that changed everything. She loaded the photo to her smartphone and sent it to Dr. Voelker. The photo was clear enough that Dr. Voelker could prescribe the appropriate medication. These telemedicine visits have now spared her and Skylar at least six visits to downtown Los Angeles.
“These telemedicine visits have been a huge help,” said Diane Frank. “They’ve made life a lot easier.”