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Mohs Fellowship Trained Surgeon

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Welcome To Telehealth In A Post COVID-19 World

TeleHealth Post COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, it has created many new norms in our daily routines, including visits to the doctor’s office. When millions of people were told to shelter at home, many doctors began offering telehealth appointments to meet the needs of their patients, including us at Valley Skin Institute. Here are a few things you may want to know about telehealth in a post COVID-19 world.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth, which is also referred to as telemedicine, is a term used to refer to using electronic means to either provide or get necessary medical care. Using a smartphone, tablet, or computer, patients can schedule a video appointment with their healthcare provider. During the visit, the provider can assess your condition, offer advice, and give treatment.

Why is telehealth a good idea?

While many healthcare facilities, including Valley Skin Institute, continue to see patients in our office, telehealth offers an alternative. For the most vulnerable residents in Fresno County, social distancing, masks, and extra disinfectants are not enough to make them feel comfortable coming into the office. So, these virtual appointments make it possible for at-risk patients to stay home.

What type of care is best for using it?

At this time, telehealth appointments are only available for established patients because the technology is integrated with our electronic medical record software. Therefore, you must have an existing medical record with our office to book a telehealth appointment. 

Examples of situations that can be covered during a telehealth appointment with Valley Skin Institute include:

  • An acute rash or skin issue
  • Medication refills
  • Acne check-ups
  • A new spot or blister on the skin
  • A change in the size or appearance of a mole
  • Bleeding spots on the skin
  • Apparent infections of the skin

How does telehealth work?

All providers utilize their own methodology for setting and carrying out a telehealth appointment. At Valley Skin Institute, when you call to schedule an appointment, you can request a telehealth visit or in-office visit. Either way, you’ll receive an appointment date and time. Before your appointment, you’ll receive an email with instructions and the date and time of your appointment. When it’s time for your visit, you’ll log in through the Patient Portal or download the PocketPatient App on your phone to establish a video call with the doctor. 

Is telehealth secure?

Telehealth appointments are performed through HIPAA-compliant video chat platforms, and you will use the same username and password that you use to log in to the patient portal. Therefore, the appointment is just as secure as coming to the office to see the doctor. Naturally, it is important that you make sure your appointment is done in a private place in your home or away from others, so the interactions between yourself and the doctor are confidential.

Is this the future of medicine?

Real-time video and audio visits with your provider are likely to become an integral part of the future of medicine. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many providers to turn to telehealth to continue to treat some patients through the pandemic, and the process proved to be effective. Therefore, even though in-person visits will still likely be the norm, there may be many more opportunities for telehealth appointments when needed.

Why is insurance paying for telehealth?

Some insurance providers were already covering certain telehealth services before COVID-19 because it allowed patients the flexibility to see providers out of their area and made it easier for patients to see a doctor when other challenges would get in the way. However, through the pandemic, many more health insurance providers began covering a broader range of telehealth services, including Medicare.

Can she really see my skin?

The PocketPatient App on your phone allows you to use your flashlight and magnify an area of concern for the provider to get a better look. Remember, you may be using a small phone, but your provider sees your images on a large computer screen. One thing to keep in mind is if you’re having an issue on your back, you will need somebody with you during your appointment to get an accurate view of the problem area. Dr. Leslie Storey is a highly experienced dermatologist, so she can appropriately assess many skin conditions via video chat with your help and the use of technology.

What are patients saying about telehealth?

Most patients have enjoyed the ability to see the doctor from the convenience and privacy of their homes. There is little wait time, and you don’t have to drive for your appointment. Likewise, telehealth has made it easier for patients who typically have to travel a long distance (like college students on Accutane) or those who have mobility issues that pose travel challenges.

History?

Telemedicine is actually not something that only happened due to COVID-19; it has a long history that reaches far back into the 1940s when digital radiology records were sent across the country using telephone lines. In 1959, a two-way television system was set up at a university and a state hospital to perform remote video consultations. The modern-day telehealth appointment became what we know it as today thanks to the internet and the availability of mobile electronics.

Overall, telehealth can be an excellent part of modern-day healthcare. Even when COVID-19 is over, these remote appointments can be advantageous for both doctors and patients. If you would like to schedule a telehealth appointment, reach out to us at Valley Skin institute.

Dr. Leslie Storey | Valley Skin Institute

Dr. Leslie Storey is a board-certified physician specializing in medical and surgical dermatology. Her mission is to find and remove skin cancer, which she does more than 2,000 times a year. An expert in Mohs Surgery, Dr. Storey’s patients often comment that they are amazed at how minimal their scar is after they have healed from surgery. If you notice anything suspicious on your skin, request an appointment with Dr. Storey to have it checked out.

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