A Message From Our President - September 2020

The Value of Telehealth

In spite of having the honor of leading VirtualMed Staff for the last 6 years, I’m still an ordinary person when it comes to healthcare. We all weigh the pros and cons in our options, our costs, even the method in which we have a physician encounter. Over the course of this year, a health issue of mine has given me personal opportunities with Telehealth, which I have embraced.

In early May, I was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in a totaled car and an injured right knee from the impact with the steering wheel (despite the best efforts of the air bags). Initially, I did not realize that anything had happened to me. However, by late May, my right knee was causing me so much pain I had lost the ability to participate in one of my favorite activities - running. I pivoted and began walking, and for a time that seemed to work and I felt as if I was on the mend. 

Unfortunately, by late June, the pain in my right knee was so severe I had begun to noteiceably limp. Fast forward to late September and my right knee has proven to be so damaged that in the next two weeks I’ll be having partial or full knee replacement surgery. My knee has deteriorated that much, in that little amount of time.

I'm sure by now you are wondering, "Where does Telehealth come in?" When I reached out to Emory University Sports Medicine here in Atlanta, GA, where I live, I quickly discovered that all patient encounters would take place via Telehealth. Over the course of August and September, I have been through numerous video assessments by two different orthopedic surgeons as they assessed the condition of my knee, and what steps would be needed to allow the quality of my life to improve. For the record, limping noticeably isn’t just painful, it’s an easy way to have your colleagues at work call you “Grampa”.

Throughout this process, the physician evaluations were always handled via Telehealth, and frankly they worked wonderfully. I wasn’t rushed, my questions were answered, and the assessments were honest and thoughtful. Taking the time for additional X-rays, an MRI, more X-rays, and then a CT Scan has led me to today. While each of those procedures were understandably handled by a visit to the hospital, the evaluations were all handled, again, through Telehealth.

I felt I was kept fully informed, I could understand the issues I was facing, and I was given copies of multiple X-rays pushed to my smart phone to help me understand the speed at which my knee was deteriorating. While it has been an unpleasant thing to have happened, I’ve truly enjoyed all facets of the virtual healthcare I have received. These doctors have been outstanding, and the virtual nature of the care quickly became something I enjoyed very much. I loved the limited wait time, in particular.

I hope that these quick notes above offer some insight into how any of us may need care through Telehealth. If I have any takeaway from my own experience, it is this: discovering I have a medical problem was very much offset by access to physicians and their expertise and informative nature. To not be rushed, and to have my questions answered, makes me a champion of Telehealth. 

Thank you Dr. Kyle Hammond and Dr. George Guild with Emory University for your help and guidance. Dr. Guild, I’ll see you in surgery in 2 weeks.