PUEBLO — As we move further into the pandemic, the need for telehealth appointments has skyrocketed. But how are these appointments working?
Dr. Kathryn McCaffrey, an internal medicine physician at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, says telehealth appointments have been a great tool since the pandemic began, but they're not replacing in-person visits.
"It's been nice to be able to transition patients, who may have just needed a routine appointment to dicuss blood pressure medicines or something, to telehealth," said Dr. McCaffrey. "It's also useful for those who have COVID, to be able to fill me in, and I can talk to our patients and help them get through the virus, without exposing people in the office."
Aside from minor technical issues like patients not being too familiar with how to work zoom or online platforms, Dr. McCaffrey says there haven't been any major issues with telehealth appointments.
She also mentioned when COVID-19 cases are high, a large percentage of her appointments are online.
"This week I've been closer to that 20% mark, whereas around the Thanksgiving time, I was closer to that 80% mark."
Telehealth appointments are also convenient for patients like Jeremy Bray, who has one at least once a week.
"Just being able to open up my computer and jump right on it, instead of having to go anywhere or fight with traffic or anything, is convenient," said Bray. "(After the pandemic), I think it should definitely stay an option. I would prefer it as much as possible."
Online appointments also reduce the risk of spreading viruses, and can be convenient for those who have full-time jobs and a busy work schedule, or those who live in rural areas. Elderly, who can't drive, no longer need transportation to doctor's office too.
"It's a great option to be able to still check in and not miss those appointments," said Dr. McCaffrey, who also mentioned to trust your physician and do not fear going to the doctor's office. "Most physicians know when they really need to see somebody to do an exam. There are still a lot of medical problems where we need to see the patient in person and there's no replacing that."
Dr. McCaffrey mentioned online appointments will remain an option for the foreseeable future, and will likely continue when the pandemic is over.