Telehealth: Another Option for Medical Treatment

Early detection and ongoing medical care are crucial to maintaining good health – especially if you have a chronic condition, such as kidney disease, diabetes or peripheral artery disease. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel hesitant about visiting a doctor, but you can’t let that stop you. While healthcare providers in many states can offer in-person visits again, you also have another option: Telehealth visits.

You may have heard of Telehealth but have a number of questions. Are people really using it? How do the appointments work? And are they effective?

Telehealth by the numbers

Telehealth usage was on the rise, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors and patients have turned to telehealth visits even more to limit exposure to the coronavirus.

52%

Annual Growth in Telehealth Visits from 2005–201457

50%

Increase in Telehealth Visits in March 202058

1billion

Potential Virtual Health Care Interactions in 202058

How it works

Telehealth service helps ensure you receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time. If you are elderly, have a compromised immune system or live with people who do, you can meet with a doctor from the comfort of your own home – to safely continue receiving medical care.

Seeing patients in their homes is an important advantage of telemedicine, according to Dr. Imraan Ansaarie of Ansaarie Cardiac & Endovascular Center of Excellence, East Palatka St. Augustine, Fla. “They get a lot more time to speak. We’re in their world — looking at them. It’s a huge advantage for the patients and for us,” he says.

With today’s technology, doctors can also perform detailed physical examinations as they inspect patients’ feet for ulcer, wounds, swelling or color changes.

Ongoing care is important for early diagnoses and early intervention. Many people living with peripheral artery disease (PAD) don’t show any symptoms or know it is progressing. Some people may dismiss PAD’s early symptoms — like pain while walking or cold feet — as normal signs of aging.

If you or a loved one cannot walk 15 minutes without a problem, Dr. Ansaarie recommends scheduling an appointment immediately. With an earlier diagnosis, doctors can provide less-invasive treatment methods for milder forms of PAD that may include:

  • Lifestyle changes (smoking cessation, healthier diet)
  • Supervised exercise therapy
  • Medical management

Keeping regular appointments is also key to managing the disease.

“The spectrum of time gives us the best knowledge. We can make a history of you. We can make a timeline,” says Dr. Ansaarie. “If you skip appointments — or data points — it’s hard for us and for you to predict what’s going to happen next.”

Most importantly in cases of advanced peripheral artery disease, there are treatment options that can help you avoid amputation.

By making and keeping telehealth appointments with your doctor, it may be possible to avoid more serious surgical interventions. If you don’t have a PAD specialist, use our Find a Doctor tool to locate one.