The doctor will see you now
Why virtual visits using telehealth are on the rise
Carolyn Tillo Published: 5/4/2020
It’s time for your routine wellness check, but you put it off and call to reschedule your appointment. During the COVID-19 crisis, you’d prefer not to go to your doctor’s office unless you’re really sick.
This is the approach many people are probably taking to their health care right now. But is it the right one?
Not necessarily. With so many virtual healthcare options available now, there’s no excuse not to see your doctor for that check-up or that follow-up appointment, as Chetan Hampole, MD, a cardiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists, explains.
“Don’t wait,” Dr. Hampole said. “As we use the video platforms more, we get better at doing virtual visits.”
Baptist Health is not alone in seeing a drastic rise in virtual appointments since the start of COVID-19. It’s a trend that has been seen across the U.S. as health systems aim to minimize the risk of spreading the disease.
Dr. Hampole’s office, for example, is maintaining normal business hours but conducting most of their visits virtually. He has seen patients with heart symptoms who were referred by their primary care physicians. He is also seeing patients who went to the emergency room and got discharged but were asked to follow up with a cardiologist about their condition.
Because of virtual visits, it’s that much easier for patients to follow up with him, allowing Dr. Hampole to go through the patient’s history and review medical records, as well as ordering tests and even prescribing medications when needed. He said that sometimes patients aren’t aware they are having symptoms of cardiovascular disease or stroke until they talk through them with their doctor.
However, Dr. Hampole said having access to this technology doesn’t mean that people should avoid coming in to see their primary care doctor or specialist, or going to the ER if they are having a health emergency.
“When patients need a face-to-face visit, we are here for them, and we’re ensuring our facilities are clean, safe and ready,” Dr. Hampole said.
Joe Czerkawski, MD, an internist with Baptist Health who focuses on sports medicine, is also conducting virtual visits. He has been seeing patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), as well as athletes with joint, neck or back pains. Dr. Czerkawski says preventive health measures are also critical during this time.
He is encouraging his patients to eat plant-based diets and keep up a daily exercise routine, as well as to take vitamin D to help maintain calcium levels. Weight management is critical during this time, as obesity can lead to worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Avoiding gatherings but staying connected with friends and family via calls and video chats is also important.
“I treat a lot of athletes who really are anxious to hit the gym again, but we’ve got to be patient,” he said. “Right now, it’s critical that we all do our part to keep our community safe.”
At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information, visit baptistjax.com/covid19 or wolfsonchildrens.com/covid19. For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call 904.302.5050.
Baptist Health physicians are here for you during this time and can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications virtually. Request an online doctor appointment here.