Physicians Use Tech to Safely See Patients

Staff Writer

There’s a new technology being utilized by Grand Lake Physician Practices that is making it easier for patients to receive care.

The technology is called telehealth and it allows patients to remain at home and attend scheduled appointments with physicians through video chat.

“It’s the ability for either your doctor, nurse practitioner, clinical psychologist or licensed clinical social worker to have a virtual visit with the patient,” said Dawn McNaughton, chief medical officer for Grand Lake Physician Practices. 

Grand Lake Physician Practices started using the telehealth technology last Friday in attempt to keep patients, especially those at a higher risk, at home and away from the physician’s offices. 

“We’re saving them from having to travel,” said McNaughton. “Especially patients who are higher risk and our elderly population we’re wanting to keep at home right now. We feel that we’re able to provide responsible care and keep our patients healthy and safe this way.”

To use telehealth, patients must have a computer or a smartphone with an internet connection. 

McNaughton said while telehealth is great, it can’t be used in every scenario.

“We still can’t touch our patients,” said McNaughton. “If they feel a lump in their throat, I’m not going to be able to feel their neck and see if I can feel a mass. If they’re telling me they’re having abdominal pain with worrisome features, we would want to do a physical exam. Not every visit is an appropriate visit for telehealth.”

If it’s deemed appropriate, patients can set up a telehealth appointment by calling into the office first.

After scheduling an appointment, patients will receive an email inviting them to their health portal.

There have been a few technical difficulties early on with telehealth said McNaughton as some patients’ computers or phones don’t support the software, but it’s been very smooth on the office’s end.