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LifeBridge Health, in continuing to provide care while keeping patients and team members safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, is embracing telehealth visits.

Providers across our system are conducting appointments via videoconferencing technology that enables checkups, e-prescribing and other aspects of traditional visits if you have concerns about in-person appointments due to COVID-19 or if you simply want the convenience of connecting with your provider from home or work.

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Appointments via telephone, email or text might also be an option if you don’t have videoconferencing capabilities, as is the case with virtual doctor visits at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics.

“It is important for our patients to know that we care about them, we are here for them, and we will not abandon them during this crisis,” says John E. Herzenberg, M.D., FRCSC, FAAOS, director of the International Center for Limb Lengthening at RIAO. “Their inability to get to the office for appointments should not be an obstacle for them to getting good care. This is how we, as a department, Care Bravely.”

So, what if you need (or think you need) an X-ray?

Certainly, if you have an obvious deformity, you will need to go to an urgent care facility to get evaluated. But radiologic studies aren’t always necessary. If you are experiencing discomfort such as pain after twisting an ankle, a virtual doctor visit may save you the trouble of going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Also, some patients, per their insurance plan, may be required to get X-rays at specific offsite facilities. If you do require a radiologic study, your doctor can order one during your telehealth visit.

“Rather than coming to our office for an in-person visit and then making a second trip to the radiology facility, patients can eliminate the need to travel to our office by arranging a telemedicine office visit,” says Robert M. Peroutka, M.D., FAAOS, a RIAO orthopedic surgeon.

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You can discuss the results of your study with your doctor during a follow-up telehealth visit. Radiologic studies done at certain imaging centers can be viewed online by the physician.

“We can screen share with the patient and show them their x-rays on their computer, tablet or smartphone while we are videoconferencing,” Peroutka says. “If online viewing from a remote radiology facility is not available, then the ordering physician should be provided with the report by the radiologist.”

Based on the assessment, some treatments (medications, physical therapy, etc.) can be ordered remotely. “If the patient’s radiologic study reveals a situation where the patient needs to be seen in the office, such as a fracture requiring a cast, injection or hands-on physical exam, then arrangements can be made accordingly,” Peroutka says.

Offsite imaging centers will have their own protocols regarding the safety of their patients and staff.

“Patients should take the same precautions that are expected in any situation during the pandemic,” Peroutka says.

You can call 410-601-BONE (2663) to learn more about Virtual Doctor Visits at RIAO or to make an appointment.

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Also, visit lifebridgehealth.org or call 410-601-WELL to learn more about our other services and scheduling an appointment.