As the novel coronavirus has made its rounds across the country, medicine has had to adapt in numerous ways. The first strategy that was tried was full closure. Since then, we’ve learned more about the virus and how to protect ourselves and each other. In doctor’s offices and other clinical settings, sanitization practices have increased. Scheduling has also changed in ways to limits the number of people in an office at one time.
A final implementation, one that has taken some time, has been the development of virtual medical visits. As new as this is, many people still assume that virtual healthcare visits are intended for established patients. While we can see patients for follow-ups using telehealth, we can also consult with new patients using this innovative technology. You may wonder if a virtual visit with a spine specialist would be beneficial or even effective. A vast majority of patients surveyed about their virtual experiences say yes.
Virtual Visits Maintain Outstanding Spine Care
Of course, there are limitations to what can be achieved through telemedicine but that does not render the concept inefficient. On a video conference, a spine specialist cannot treat an injury or condition, but they can perform a thorough consultation and evaluation. Today, telemedicine is even used for surgical planning. According to a recent study, this mode of practice can be just as successful at achieving optimal patient outcomes.
To complete the study, researchers analyzed 33 patient records, all of which were indicated for spinal surgery after a virtual visit. Rather than immediately moving forward with the proposed surgical plan, these patients then consulted with another spinal specialist, this time in person. In 31 of the 33 cases (94%), the diagnoses and treatment plans developed from the in-person visits did not change from those done virtually. In the two cases that did change, this was an expansion on the initial treatment plan of spinal fusion to include additional levels.
While additional studies may be performed as we navigate a new way of going about our lives, this study demonstrates the integrity of medical visits whether performed virtually or in-person. We are pleased to see that our patients can feel more confident in receiving the care they need in the safest ways possible.