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February 15, 2016 | Benefits of Remote Visits During Winter Months

As we progress further into winter, it can only be assumed that the temperatures will continue to drop. Snow will build upon the ground, and the prospect of traveling outside will become increasingly less appealing.

However, for elderly patients, especially individuals with serious, multiple chronic conditions, the weather takes an especially hard toll. Most of these patients rely on continued contact with their primary care physician for medication advice and care guidance. The prospect of traversing the elements for an in-person check-up can be a daunting thought.

There is a worrisome aspect of the issue. The patient might simply decide that the effort and journey are not worth the benefit of discussing a slight change in their symptoms. However, as experienced clinicians know, the smallest of symptomatic variations in patients with multiple chronic conditions are often indicative of a larger problem. Ignoring them could lead to poor outcomes and further complications.

The Benefits of Remote Visits

Remote care essentially takes the variables out of this situation. Whereas an in-person check-up could require a 30-minute drive through inclement conditions, exposure to freezing temperatures, and an assortment of other unfortunate circumstances, a simple remote visit could accomplish this all and within a timely fashion.

Remote care consultations, via phone or videoconferencing, allow a doctor to have an accurate picture of how a patient is progressing. It also allows them to hear valuable feedback and foster relationships similar to those accomplished in-person. While remote communications will never replace the necessity of surgery, a remote visit could spot potential problems. It would alert a medical professional that emergency intervention is required. Further, as technology becomes more advanced, remote monitoring devices could automatically alert medical professionals that emergency services are necessary. They can include items such as arm cuffs to detect blood pressure.

Until then, it’s important to utilize the technology we have at hand to ensure that these patients receive the care necessary to manage their conditions. For example, Medicare’s Chronic Care Management Program (CCM), ensures the patient receives a monthly telehealth call. This where trained medical professionals walk them through care routines, medication guidelines, and ultimately input all this relevant information into the EHR. It is then reviewed by the PCP and acted upon if necessary.

For those who reside in the Northeast, wind chills can reach -10 degrees. This type of weather can be incredibly dangerous. Considering their options, the choice for physicians is clear. Don’t make your chronic care patients suffer through another winter of precarious trips and face-to-face consultations. Instead, sign them up for CCM today to ensure improved, thorough care from the safety and comfort of their own homes.