Telemedicine offers alternative to office visit in the age of COVID-19
General Physician PC’s Dr. Ripple Marfatia, who has offices in Castile and Attica, confronts the threat of COVID-19 every day he comes to work. His primary care offices both have a steady stream of older patients, many with underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Many of my patients are worried about leaving their homes,” Marfatia says. “They are taking social distancing seriously, but they also need their medical care.”
Realizing the growing need to treat such patients, General Physician PC expanded its telemedicine service to better serve its patients navigating this new frontier of life under social distancing rules.
“Patients are surprised at how easy the video calls are,” Marfatia says. “I can ask all of the same questions I would during an office visit, examine the patient and diagnose a number of different conditions.”
He says there is some apprehension among his patients at first, but once they have had a video visit, they appreciate the care without the potential risk of leaving home during the pandemic.
“People are used to medicine the way they have always experienced it,” he says. “This will take a little getting used to, but it is an excellent way to ensure our patients are still getting the care they need during these times.”
The growth in telemedicine predates the arrival of COVID-19. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, telemedicine is offered through more than 50 major health systems in the United Stated. Most importantly for patients, many insurance companies are covering video visits at the same cost they would a traditional office visit.
One of the biggest obstacles to widespread implementation has always been accessibility. Now, with more than 80 percent of Americans owning smartphones, telemedicine has become a much more viable option. For physicians such as Marfatia, telemedicine has offered patients an added sense of peace of mind.
“Just because we have COVID-19 doesn’t mean people aren’t getting sick or presenting with other medical needs,” Marfatia says. “We had to find a way to safely, effectively care for those patients, as well as our COVID-19 cases, without putting anyone at risk. Telemedicine is a wonderful solution to that challenge.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Washington Post, another major obstacle doctors report is patients who are uncomfortable with video visits because it is so opposite of what they have always known. Marfatia says many people feel comfortable with their doctor and want to see them face to face.
“Many of my patients have been coming to me for years, and that is true for doctors across our organization,” he says. “We don’t operate our offices where you take a number and get whichever physician is available,” he says. “My patients know me, and they have come to trust me with their health.”
In the end, according to Marfatia and his team, video visits are the safest alternative to traditional visits during this global pandemic.
“We are able to take care of most of your needs from home, so it is safer for you right now,” he says. “It will allow us to maintain your health, while decreasing the chances of you contracting COVID-19.”
To learn more about video visits, or to find a General Physician PC office near you, visit www.gppconline.com.