Two weeks ago, I had my very first telehealth appointment with my neurologist of about 8 years. I had spent at least a half a dozen years of advocating on Capitol Hill to make telehealth available (attempt to get it covered by insurance as well) to the public. Telehealth has become a reality and a viable, valuable, convenience –but also a solution for meetings! For some of us, telemedicine has pulled back the curtain on a new technology with unlimited potential and opportunities. Telehealth is becoming a necessity and not just a mere luxury. Right now, this new technology is great during this pandemic, but it could change back, without government legislation.
Thanks to the improvements in technology like band-with, compression, fiber cable, security, improved software, and the pandemic forcing us to drop or ease regulations, the current crisis has made a rapid need for this amazing service.
Dr. Ray Dorsey M.D. MBA is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology and Director of the Center for Health + Technology at the University of Rochester and has been an active and longtime proponent of telehealth and telemedicine. As longtime Parkinson’s advocates with the former Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), my wife, Angela, and I would bump into Dr. Dorsey with some frequency, over the past ten years. Ray has been a visionary of this technology and of its’ potential. Now telehealth needs to become a legal standard that we can all have access to, from now on.
My neurology appointment was made for 4:30 PM but I was asked to be on the site at 4:00 PM. I submitted my follow-up documents before we met, to save time and confusion. Due to an error with the submit button, I had to handwrite my documents, scan them, and send them to their office.
I really preferred not having to race through rush hour traffic and the tension of making it there on time. Using my kitchen as a waiting room was quieter than the doctor’s waiting room, was more comfortable, was more sanitary, was less stressful, and I had periodicals from the last decade. But seriously, the whole process of going online reduced wasted time, lowered anxiety, lowered stress, reduced exposure to any ill people, plus, we did not have to expend gasoline to drive there.
A bubbly and engaging nurse asked me a few questions, about fifteen minutes prior to the actual appointment time. When we were done, I was told the doctor would be right in. I was reminded of the old days. I waited. Remember waiting for your doctor? Of course, you do!
The wait was brief, and my doctor was terrific. I had checked my blood pressure just before the call, and I scored a calm 120/80. The appointment went smoothly, and we agreed on my regimen.
There was no flexibility test or a fall test. He watched me walk. He filled my prescriptions. As any doctor visit goes, I have got to tell you, I wish, and I hope that they are all like that one, in the future! There is a big take away to remember: Tell your elected representatives how important telehealth is to you!
I saw Ray Dorsey in a Zoom meeting recently, discussing the new book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease, which he co-authored. I asked Dr. Dorsey what his thoughts were on the rapid burst of telehealth popularity. His remarks were, that if you like using telemedicine for physician visits, to tell your representatives, so that we can keep this most beneficial technology. Tell your Senators and Congress people that you want Medicare coverage for telehealth to keep telehealth as a medical option and to vote it into a law!
Telehealth has the potential to make doctor visits smoother, safer, and more efficient. This technology is an option that we need.