A Sign of the Times: Telehealth in the Wake of COVID-19

Posted in General

Published by SmartGraft on April 1, 2020

 

Telemedicine is not new to the medical field. In fact, the healthcare industry has successfully used it for decades to treat patients. The current COVID-19 pandemic has increased travel and public gathering restrictions, and telemedicine is gaining traction as physicians reevaluate meaningful communication and care with their patients. Telehealth, or Telemedicine refers to the exchange of medical information from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient’s health. In the wake of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, physicians are increasingly turning to technology to limit community spread of the virus, while at the same time limiting the exposure of the disease to other patients and staff members. On March 17, 2020, the Whitehouse signed the 1135 waiver, which temporarily loosens regulations on Telemedicine, allowing physicians and patients a safe alternative to meeting patients’ needs during the pandemic. These virtual “visits” through the use of computers, tablets, and smartphones are now being promoted by hospitals and healthcare systems, by the White House, and are now the recommended protocol from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many physicians, navigating these relatively unchartered waters has been a lesson in patience and perseverance. SmartGraft Physician, Dr. Stanley Okoro, of Georgia Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery recommends that “physicians embrace and adapt the use of technology in medicine as this is the new normal. In my opinion, the use of technology makes the practice of medicine more efficient, cost effective, and far more reaching than the traditional office visits.” He points out, however, that “Virtual visits do not eliminate actual physical appointments.”

A Note to Patients:

During this critical time of social distancing, many SmartGraft providers are offering virtual consultations as an alternative to face to face appointments. SmartGraft Physicians Dr. Rolando Toyos and Dr. Melissa Toyos of The Toyos Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee continue to be dedicated to serving the needs of their patients, offering telemedicine during this period of social distancing. Dr. Melissa reports that “a one on one teleconference will allow our patients to completely address hair loss concerns and allow us to explore options available to restore the patient’s hair and self-confidence again. Patients seeking a virtual consultation with a SmartGraft provider will require access to a computer or smart phone with a camera as well as access to an internet connection. Suggested platforms include Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp. SmartGraft Physician Dr. Joseph R. Yaker of Yaker Hair Restoration in Plano, Texas has reported success using virtual resource Join.Me. Dr. Yaker reports that “consultation appointments are via Join.Me at this time. There is a $100 consultation fee for our office, which can be applied to surgery, if a patient is a candidate. During our consultation, I discuss the patient’s hair loss, and we review non-surgical and surgical options.” Your SmartGraft provider will direct you to their chosen protocol prior to your appointment. To find a SmartGraft physician near you, click here.

A virtual consultation will include an extensive medical history to determine potential causes for hair loss. Prior to your consultation, your physician may also ask for you to take a series of images to assist with a scalp evaluation the location of your hair loss. A list of suggested images and angles can be found here. Your physician will explain the SmartGraft procedure, if it applies to your case, or suggest alternate methods many supported by Vision Medical, Inc. which may include solutions such as LOCKrx Hair Support System and Low Level Laser Light Therapies. If you are a candidate for the SmartGraft procedure, your SmartGraft physician will explain the procedure in detail and determine the number of grafts needed for an effective and natural-looking result specific to your goals.

Additional information on the SmartGraft procedure, can be found here.

Following the latest standard of care recommendations SmartGraft Physician, Stanley Okoro of Georgia Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers Skype and WhatsApp virtual consultations to his patients.

A Note to Physicians

For physicians, various challenges and risks of telemedicine must be addressed. In an increasing demand to assist physicians with their telemedicine capabilities, the American Medical Association AMA recently launched a quick guide to telmemedicine in practice. The guide provides suggested policies, coding practices and payment techniques, and implementation of telehealth protocol to address this growing shift in medical care. Additionally, the Center for Connected Health Policy offers guidelines per state as well as implementation of the COVID-19 telehealth waiver in Medicare under HR 6074. The CCHP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to maximize telehealth’s ability to improve health outcomes. A list of general best practices related to Insurance coverage and out-of-pocket telemedicine can be found here. As a service to all of our SmartGraft practices and providers, SmartGraft by Vision Medical, Inc. continues to provide educational resources to our customers on a regular basis. We remain on hand to assist our providers with online training in the basics of Hair restoration via digital consultation. Please contact us should you require assistance.

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