Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected.

Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected.

Telemedicine has quickly become a daily term in the media during the last few weeks with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The notion of seeing a physician outside of the office setting seems very foreign to most of us here in Appalachia but is not new to those in more remote parts of the country who have limited access to specialists or even local primary care providers.

As a neurologist who cares for many patients with complex conditions, including some who are prescribed medications that must be taken to suppress their immune systems, I needed to keep my appointments with my patients during this global crisis. But, doing so from a safe distance was of paramount importance.

As “Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Home.” has become the mainstream mantra for slowing the progression of the virus, I needed to identify a method to see my patients without them having to leave their homes and risk unnecessary exposure. These concerns for my patients’ safety sparked my interest in early adoption of a safe and effective means to meet with them remotely to discuss all the care needs typically addressed in traditional office visits.

Marshall Health has multiple platforms that can be used for telemedicine, but I settled on a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tool called Microsoft Teams. “Teams” has allowed for continuation of Marshall Neurology’s multidisciplinary management of our patients, through the direct participation of allied health professionals including nursing, clinical pharmacists and members of our care team. Our resident physicians have also participated in our virtual visits.

These meaningful video interactions allow the clinical staff to directly see our patients, ask and answer questions and perform much of our traditional neurologic examination to appropriately assess the progress of a patient’s condition. Additionally, we can share our screens to review imaging/x-rays, lab results and even confirm appropriate pharmacy information before sending prescriptions electronically to be filled for delivery or pick-up.

Our department has performed more than 100 “virtual visits” in the last week with great reviews from our patients.  We look forward to growing this service to meet all our patients’ needs until we can safely begin seeing our patients face-to-face again.

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Paul Ferguson

Dr. Ferguson is a board-certified neurologist and associate professor and chair of the department of neurology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

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