Telehealth Urology Telemedicine

Isolation can be difficult.  Yet for older Americans or those with chronic health problems, risks may be too high to take chances.  We’re all doing what we can with a very difficult situation, even though reliable data is sparse at present.

At Northlake Urology we've made some changes by reminding our patients of mostly common-sense recommendations in hopes of avoiding the Wuhan coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), otherwise known as COVID-19.  Keep your distance from others, avoid handshakes and physical contact.  Avoid individuals who are ill with coughing or fever.  Avoid fomites (door handles, faucet handles) whenever possible.  Wash your hands well with soap and apply rubbing alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  At all cost avoid touching your eyes, nose and face.

We're all taking precautions, but no precaution is perfect.  Physical isolation may be a necessity, but with simple modern communication tools medical isolation is not!

At Northlake Urology you may chose to use TELEHEALTH (aka. telemedicine) methods that allow high-risk patients (or any patient) to visit with our doctors form the safety of home.  You need only a cell phone (of any type) or if preferred, a tablet or computer.  Communicate with your urologist by your choice of audio, video or even secure text messaging.

Lab, x-rays and medical documents, pictures or video are may be transmitted from us to you (and vice versa) using SMS or MMS text messaging or even email, while you talk with your doctor about medical issues.  The process is very straight forward.  You need no special equipment and you do not need a special app.  If you can send a text message (or even just talk on the phone) you have all you need.  We prescribe and refill medications, review and discuss test results and (if you prefer) perform a visual exam via video or still pictures.

You'll find this service convenient, effective and above all, a very safe alternative to obvious healthcare exposure risks.  Urology telehealth will never replace all face-to-face physician visits, but under the circumstances this is a great temporary alternative.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare and most insurance providers signify that they do now cover telehealth services for established patients.  The President has ordered this critically needed telemedicine coverage via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  Further, the US Department of Health (HHS) has relaxed HIPAA enforcement in hopes of easing access to medical care for patients who may not have high-tech capabilities.  Diligent privacy protections are correspondingly in place, of course. 

 

Typical co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles do still apply to telehealth services, but payments can be collected over the telephone or computer.  New patient telehealth discussions with the doctor are also available, yet insurance coverage is less clear.  Call us at (985) 345-5500 or book your TELEHEALTH appointment online here.

Of course, we continue to see patients live and in person in our Mandeville office!  However, we've modified our schedules a bit.  Our patient appointment schedules now accommodate physical distancing.  While we do not treat coronavirus patients per se, we do now schedule longer time spans for each patient appointment.  This allows each patient a relaxed visit with more time to get in and out of our medical facilities, ideally avoiding the proximity of others.

We ask that patients not arrive early for appointments and we also request that family members not accompany the patient to the office, unless necessary.  Gone are the typical doctor's office magazines and the like.  Hand sanitizer, disposable towels and gloves are provided where indicated and all surfaces are sanitized on schedule.

For anyone who should develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing during this outbreak, call your doctor, rather than simply appearing at your doctor's office unannounced.  Avoiding the doctor's office may spare other patients from contracting the illness.  Your doctor may advise you where to go, what to do and how to be tested.  Wearing a face mask and isolating yourself from others is indicated.  Yet, higher fever or breathing difficulty would require hospital emergency evaluation and likely hospitalization.

If an active COVID-19 viral infection (or known exposure) is confirmed, doctors might recommend a medication like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) or potentially the non-prescription herbal medicine quercetin.  Whether as a treatment or even as prophylaxis (early treatment or prevention), it's too early to know if these or other medications might prove beneficial.  We just don't know yet.

There are no proven antibiotic (antiviral) treatments for COVID-19 at this point, but in vitro (in the experimental lab only) studies have been initiated and clinical studies are planned.  A vaccine is obviously needed, in addition to effective antiviral drugs.  However, until we have these, prevention is the only way of avoiding the illness.

At Northlake Urology we have a very cautious but optimistic outlook.  Americans will and all of humanity must .. pull together to defeat this viral nemesis.  May God bless our efforts and see us through!