The Rise of Telemedicine
How COVID19 is changing the way patients manage their physical health and implications for patients with limb loss.
As of June 11, 2020, stay-at-home orders are in effect across the country albeit to varying degrees. Generally speaking, most citizens are required to stay at home unless engaging in a narrow list of exceptions that include grocery shopping, exercise, and essential business.
And while healthcare is considered essential, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on March 18 that all elective surgeries and nonessential medical, surgical and dental procedures be delayed the during outbreak. In one fell swoop, I received calls from my dentist, primary care, and OB/GYN informing me that I no longer held appointments on March 23-25. No shock there.
Many medical practices remain fully operational throughout the COVID19 outbreak. Others have made the decision to close temporarily. Across the board, healthcare providers are responding to the numerous federal, state, and local public health guidances by rescheduling or cancelling non-urgent appointments until further notice. The definition of "non-urgent" remains unclear, but it is safe to say this depends on location, patient demographics, type of healthcare being delivered, and more. The use of telemedicine has nearly exploded to help bridge the gap in the meantime - in which healthcare practitioners triage their patients via phone or video chat before deciding how to proceed (e.g. prescription, follow-up video chat, in-person visit, etc.).
Orthotic/prosthetic centers may have a reduced number of appointments, including emergency appointments, and they may rely heavily on telemedicine. Centers are advising patients to take special precautions in maintaining their devices, publishing various at-home tips for patients with limb loss to follow.
Early and consistent use of a prosthetic limb following amputation surgery is known to reduce pain and increase mobility, having a potentially drastic positive effect on quality of life. As a result, this patient demographic can suffer disproportionately from delayed or cancelled appointments where time is of the essence. Back in March, Atchari Watson made her husband a wooden leg that got him walking around the house. The COVID-19 crisis delayed her husband's treatment.
Of course, these limitations are put in place to protect everyone involved - healthcare staff, patients, their families. Patients with limb loss are typically associated with one or more risk factors for experiencing complications from the new coronavirus. But these short-term protections may imply long-term consequences of delayed prosthetic evaluation, reevaluation, and physical therapy.
About Writer: Pranita Muralidhar
Pranita Muralidhar is passionate about health sciences, entrepreneurship, and connecting people with products that benefit them the most. By contributing to the blog, Pranita hopes to help raise broad exposure and awareness of TheraV ELIX.
Learn more about Pranita at pranitamuralidhar.com