Think of TeleHealth as socially distanced healthcare. It’s a beneficial way that your primary care physician or specialists, including your radiation oncologist, can provide the same level of patient care and education you’re accustomed to—in the comfort of your home!

Whether you use a computer, tablet, or smartphone to connect with your healthcare provider, these virtual visits are a positive and convenient way to manage your health by receiving ongoing care when an in-person visit isn’t necessary—or possible.

TeleHealth has several positives, including:

  • Accessibility:
    • Have you ever wished you can chat with your doctor while you were out of town or on vacation? No matter how far you are from your physician’s office, a TeleHealth visit will let you check in with him or her about any side effects or symptoms you may be experiencing. They’re also very convenient for those times when you’d really like to talk to your doctor but just don’t feel well enough to get into the office.
  • Cost savings:
    • Although there is generally a charge for these visits, TeleHealth appointments save you the time and money spent traveling to and from in-person visits.
  • Availability of appointment times:
    • TeleHealth appointments often help you to see a doctor more quickly than if you were trying to arrange an in-person visit.
  • Lowered risk of infection:
    • Virtual visits from the safety of your own home mean you’re not being exposed to other patients who may be contagious—and it keeps your doctors and nurses safe, too!

What To Expect With TeleHealth Visits
When you log into a web-based service, you’ll be guided through a series of questions around your medical history and current situation. Then you’ll be connected to your medical provider.

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In most cases, your physician will be able to prescribe medications after your TeleHealth visit.

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Some TeleHealth Tips For A Successful Appointment

  • You’ll need a reliable device such as a smartphone, tablet, computer or laptop with audio/video capabilities and a connection to the internet.
  • You’ll also need a program, app, or website to connect with your care provider (the physician’s office will let you know which they’re using).
  • It’s helpful to have a wired internet connection or strong Wi-Fi. Avoid any known internet “dead spots” in your house when you settle in for the appointment.
  • Headphones or earbuds are not absolutely essential, but they can be very helpful in blocking out noise and making the conversation clear and easy to follow.
  • Before the appointment, put together a list of your concerns and questions. Keep that and pen and paper handy for taking notes.
  • Find a private, quiet space with good lighting and settle in a few minutes early.
  • You’ll get the most from your virtual visit if you concentrate on it solely, so try to let your family know you’re not to be disturbed for a bit.
  • Ask questions! Your care provider is there—and happy!—to help.

Featured image: Juan Manuel Romero, MD, a cardiologist at a hospital in Ciudad Obregon in Sonora, Mexico, engages in a pre-op consultation with Alma Guadalupe Xoletxilva and her doctor, Edgar Cuevas, who are 400 miles away in La Paz, Baja California. Besides enabling doctors who are geographically separated to hear and see each other while consulting, patient information such as charts and scans can be shared in seconds. Photo courtesy: © 2011 Intel Free Press. Used with permission.

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Jack Steel, MD, FACRO, is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist with more than 20 years of brachytherapy experience. He has performed over 4,000 prostate seed implant procedures. Additionally, Steel has extensive training in all areas of cancer treatment including lung cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and GI Malignancies. Steel was instrumental in establishing prostate seed implant programs in numerous hospitals and surgery centers in Tampa, Brandon, Sun City Center, Plant City, and Bradenton, FL. Steel is the author and principal investigator of a research project entitled “Combined Modality Therapy Treatment (Triple Therapy) for Unfavorable Early Stage Prostate Cancer.” The study is funded via two unconditional grants sponsored by TAP Pharmaceuticals, and Schering Laboratory Corporation. He graduated summa cum laude from Northern Michigan University and received his medical degree in 1985 from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. Steel completed his residency program at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where he was Chief Resident, and subsequently became an assistant professor at the University of Southern California. Steel then served three years with the United States Air Force as Chief of Radiation Oncology at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi before entering private practice in Florida in 1993. Steel is a member of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology; the American College of Radiation Oncology; the American College of Radiology; the Florida Radiological Society; the Radiosurgery Society (RSS); the Florida Medical Association; and the Hillsborough County Medical Association.