COVID-19: Telemedicine and gratitude.

Coronavirus modifications to office procedures.
March 12, 2020
Office safety plan coming soon!
May 25, 2020

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all doing well during this strange pandemic.  These are interesting times.

I am seeing the vast majority of my patients virtually.  Phone or webcam (using a platform called Livecare).  Both work well.  I’ve done this for interested patients for a long time, but now, it’s available for everyone.  I think it works well for a lot of people!  Probably way more convenient for most patients.

There are still times when I need to see you in person.  For the physical exam or some diagnostic testing.  But many of my appointments can work well virtually.  I hope people will retain some interest in telemedicine after the pandemic subsides.  I will plan to continue to offer these services after the pandemic, if the physician fee schedule continues to support it.  More efficient for both patients and doctors!

For those of you who have been assessed via telemedicine, I am keen to know your experience.  Did you like it?  Find it comprehensive enough?  Would you do it again?  Please leave me a reply, below on this page.

I would like to close with a note of gratitude.  For everyone, who is doing their best to socially distance to stop the spread of this virus.  We are flattening the curve here in BC!  To my frontline colleagues who are treating the patients with the virus – ER, ICU, internal medicine, the hospitalist service, and anaesthesia.  And the nurses!  And the other hospital staff.  And finally to everyone else who supports these efforts.  Cleaning staff, delivery staff, and beyond.  We are all in this together.

I’d like to also mention our hospital and health authority administration.  I’ve seen, on Twitter and in the news, other jurisdictions where things were not done well.  Hospital administration not obtaining enough PPE and belittling doctors and nurses who ask for it.  Ripping masks of staff and firing staff who speak out.  At LGH where I work, we have none of these things.  Our leadership have done a good job planning for the pandemic and making supplies available.  Staying organized, giving us information, and doing their best to support us.  And provincially, we have had good leadership too.  Advising us on how to safely run our practices and stay available to patients.  And changing our telehealth billing criteria so we could continue to work and care for our patients virtually.  These changes were made early and proactively, and have made a huge difference.  A stark contrast to Alberta, where physician fees were suddenly and unilaterally cut by the provincial government, and Ontario, where their telemedicine fee codes won’t be usable until June.  So doctors have to figure out how to run their business until then.

We in BC have none of those problems right now, and for that, I am grateful.  We can focus on our work looking after patients.

Until next time, take care and stay healthy.

John

 

2 Comments

  1. Tobias Jesso says:

    Do you have a personal or professional opinion on wearable devices and ECG functionality for heart health monitoring? Like Apple Watch, would you trust it for dirty data?

    • John Vyselaar says:

      Great question sir. I like both the Apple Watch ECG, and the Kardia by AliveCor. Both provide reasonably good quality ECG recordings when used correctly. Diagnoses from the app definitely need verification by a physician, but they have been helpful for people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation at documenting just how much arrhythmia they are having, and for patients with infrequent palpitations we are trying to sort out.

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