The other day one of the nurses on our home care team noticed that the client was urinating frequently. She suspected a UTI – something common in the elderly, and performed a urinalysis. She asked me to call the woman’s doctor with the results.
There unfolded a learning experience. In order to “see” your doctor during this pandemic, you phone the office in the usual way. You then take an appointment for a “telephone” visit. At the appointed time the doctor will call the patient’s home and interview the patient.
In this case, the patient could not articulate well on her own so I sat next to her. When the doctor began to ask her questions and she could not answer (she has Alzheimer’s), I asked her if she would mind if I spoke to the doctor on her behalf. She nodded yes. I told the doctor what was going on and read him the results of the chem strip. He said that a prescription would be necessary and phoned it in to the pharmacy. The medicine was delivered later that afternoon.
Previously with this particular client, we had to visit the doctor’s clinic which often involved a wait of 1 – 2 hours. This caused the client to become agitated and restless. The telephone visit was certainly quick and efficient this time as it kept the client safe in the comfort of her own home and avoided stressful travel time and waiting room time.
To make sure that everything goes well on a telephone appointment, follow a few easy steps. First of all, be available and near the telephone at the time of your appointment. Avoid being in a noisy room. Have your Meds List handy in case you need to refer to it. If you are on a video chat, let the MD see your face so that he or she can assess you. Always ask a family member or caregiver if they can assist you.
Following the telephone visit, should the doctor feel that he or she needs to see the patient, an in-person office visit will be arranged.
Telemedicine is one of the good things to have come out of the pandemic. In the future it may even be possible to buy devices to measure blood pressure, take diabetes readings and manage heart disease by automatically uploading data to the family doctor. It is hoped that when things get back to normal telemedicine will flourish and continue to be an option for our senior home care clients.