By Charlann Staab MSN, AGNP CNP

Telemedicine is a useful alternative to an in-office appointment for some healthcare delivery. Here at Scottsdale Sports Medicine Institute (SSMI) we call it TeleSports Medicine.

How do you decide whether a virtual appointment is an acceptable alternative to address your healthcare needs, or you need to be seen in person? (Not just your image on a video telemedicine)

I complied some questions you should ask yourself when looking into a telemedicine option. 

How long has it been since you had a wellness appointment?

A telemedicine appointment is not recommended if you have not completed an annual physical or lab in the last 12 months.  Your provider can not safely renew or prescribe treatment without a full assessment and understanding of your current health state. A full assessment minimally includes listening to your heart, lungs, and abdomen, as well assessing lymph nodes, pulses, and condition of your skin and how you move.

Are you currently ill?  If you are ill, are you short of breath or wheezing?

If you are experiencing a fever, new onset cough, or vomiting- a telemedicine may be the best way to access healthcare.  This is true unless you are short of breath, having chest pain, or wheezing.  These symptoms may require a visit to the emergency department.   If you are feeling ill and have an asthma or COPD history, you may also need an in-person visit. If you are short of breath or wheezing, an in-person appointment allows the provider to fully assess and treat you fully. If you are COVID positive with an antigen test; we prefer a video telemedicine for initial assessment, however if you have an associated symptoms such as chest pain, low oxygenation (92 or less%) the emergency department is your safest action

Can you provide an accurate and current account of your blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood sugar (if diabetic) and temperature?

If you can provide full vital signs and are not wheezing, a telemedicine appointment may provide enough information for your provider to modify your healthcare plan and updates prescriptions.

Is the telemedicine part of a lab or imaging review an in-person clinic appointment?

A follow up telemedicine call is typically always an option unless you have had new symptoms or require a procedure in the office such as injection.

Do you need to update your provider on recent medication related symptoms?

If you have had a side effect or adverse symptoms you believe are related to a new prescription, a telemedicine call is a convenient method to evaluate and consult for a change in your medication.

When in doubt, the SSMI front office staff can help you with the determination if a video-telemedicine appointment is right for you.