Physician Q&A: Telehealth for ENT
An interview with David Lehman, MD about ENT telemedicine
At Modernizing Medicine®, we make it our mission to create tools that help physicians.
Our most recent innovation is modmed® Telehealth, an ENT telemedicine solution that works with our award-winning electronic health records (EHR) system, EMA®, which helps physicians see patients remotely with real-time video conferencing.
To see how otolaryngologists can use telemedicine in their practices, we interviewed Dr. David Lehman, MD about his experience with modmed Telehealth for ENT.
Q: What does telemedicine for ENT look like for your practice?
A: My practice went to a hybrid system where we see 50 percent of patients in office, and 50 percent with telemedicine. I have many patients who do need to be seen in person, but we are trying to limit in-office visits to reduce viral exposure.
ENT telemedicine has opened the doors to a lot more than I hoped it could do. I was quite surprised at the variety of patients I could treat virtually. I did several telemedicine visits for routine return patients for rhinitis, a few Ménière’s disease patients, sleep apnea, chronic sinusitis and reflux. I’ve also given follow-up biopsy results, allergy testing results and radiology results.
Q: What benefits of telemedicine for ENT are you seeing for your practice and your patients?
A; We can reduce the risk of viral exposure for patients and staff. I saw my first patient who tested positive for the virus, via a telemedicine visit, and we were able to keep that patient at home in isolation and direct him to a drive-through testing center. It was beneficial to all of my staff and other patients to be able to keep that patient home. He otherwise would have come in to be seen at the office.
Q: What feature of modmed Telehealth do you like the most?
A: The video quality, especially when the patient uses the flash on their phone. You can do a well-detailed exam of the oral cavity. The quality is even better if the patient has somebody else in the room to hold the phone. I was also able to do some intranasal exams, and the camera light gives me a much better exam quality than I anticipated.
Q: What has been your practice’s biggest challenge using telemedicine for ENT, and what have you done to overcome it?
A: There have been challenges with getting less tech-savvy patients to log in. My staff was taking a lot of time to help patients over the phone, but now we have a video we can send them. That has helped alleviate that problem from a logistics standpoint, and gives my staff that time back.
Q: What did your practice do to inform patients of your new ENT telemedicine offering?
A: We sent out an email letting everybody know that telemedicine was an option. But you can’t assume that everyone will open their email, so we also made phone calls. That personal touch, I believe, was helpful.
Q: What feedback have you received from patients about their ENT telehealth experience?
A: Many patients have expressed their gratitude that we’re still here to see them and help them. We were able to reach out to patients who had postponed or canceled a visit and offered them a telemedicine visit. We wanted to keep them safe, and patients have said that meant a lot to them.
They appreciate the lengths to which we’re going to be available for them. And it gives them some comfort that we’re still here for them while we’re also being socially responsible and reducing their exposure risk.
Q: What do you see as the future for telemedicine for ENT?
A: Our specialty is largely exam based and hands-on, so ideally, I would like to see patients in the office. However, I do see value in offering the option for telemedicine visits to follow up with some patients who live far away. I have a few patients who drive two or three hours each way to come into the office. It could also be convenient for sleep apnea patients who need CPAP compliance data reviewed to renew their CPAP supply prescriptions.
Q: Do you have any advice for other ENT practices like yours that are trying to continue operations during a pandemic?
A: Be proactive, and be safe. Be available, not just physically, but by letting patients know they can reach you.
Disclosure: This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Please consult with your legal counsel and other qualified advisors to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and standards. It is each provider’s responsibility to determine that any telemedicine visit meets medical necessity for a given patient. Not all clinical scenarios may be appropriate for telemedicine visits, and the provider may need to evaluate the patient in person to establish a diagnosis or initiate treatment.