The Ups and Downs of Telehealth

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Falling asleep with your contacts in is never a good thing, especially during a pandemic when most eye doctors are closed. When I woke up that morning in April and tried to remove my CLs, I knew I was in trouble. Once I removed the lenses, my eyes were already showing signs of redness and were sore.

A small sense of panic began to creep in because I knew there was no chance of going to “see” my local OD, but I was able to make a telehealth appointment for the next day, so I tried to calm down. Like a lot of people, I was having my share of panicky moments when the pandemic was raging in the Northeast.

Not figuring I had anything to lose, and hoping to save money, I opted for an earlier online appointment through my health insurance. Big mistake. Although I got an appointment right away, they couldn’t offer me a consult with an OD or an MD. My appointment with a specialist in internal medicine lasted less than 5 minutes and she complained she couldn’t really see my eyes. She called in an Rx for eye drops, which never even made it to my drugstore.

On the other hand, my telehealth appointment one day later with my OD, Dr. Maria Pribis of Stamford Ophthalmology, was like a breath of fresh air. It was like visiting and chatting with an old friend. She was able to examine my eyes and prescribed antibiotic eye drops. Two days later I was good as new.

Once eyecare practices started closing in March, telehealth started its “rock star” trajectory and has since became a virtual lifeline for patients. According to Jobson’s 8th ECP Coronavirus Survey, 76.5 percent of respondents were offering video/image consultations for patients. Some 27 percent of ECPs surveyed said they were planning to offer telehealth services in the future.

Telehealth, like a lot of changes brought on by the pandemic, is here to stay. Thankfully, this change is a good one.

mkane@jobson.com