Telemedicine: not just for rural patients anymore

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 2:09 PM PDT
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Reno resident Lindsay Parks is visiting with a doctor about her episodes with debilitating headaches. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with migraine headaches.

On medications and keeping a migraine log, she says she's more than happy to chat over the internet, as opposed to making an office visit for continued monitoring.

“On your phone or on your iPad or any device,” says Parks. “And you don't have to find childcare which is very helpful. Kids are taking a nap. I can just visit with the doctor grab an appointment. It is perfect,” she says.

Those are just a couple of reasons patients are buying into telemedicine.

Typically, they are calls with a health care professional to check up, get a prescription or discuss on going treatment.

Dr. Maria Fernandez says in medical school they talked about telemedicine as a method to service rural areas.

But these days she says it is becoming more common place no matter where the patient lives.

”They will be able to make their doctor's visits more often,” says Dr. Fernandez, a resident with UNR Med’s Family Medicine Program. “You know they won't have transportation issues. They won't have different social barriers we often see in our patient population,” she says.

Dr. Fernandez says, obviously if there needs to be hands-on of patients, telemedicine isn't appropriate.

Right now though, telemedicine takes up about 20 to 30 percent of doctor visits.

Insurance companies too are paying for such doctor visits which shows the acceptance of telemedicine.

Doctors say the concept and that acceptance could not have come at a better time, and they point to the spread of COVID-19 as the flashpoint.

Telemedicine is being encouraged at many doctor's offices. If for nothing else, it reminds us the pandemic is still around us.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020