Did you see our recent announcement? In light of new regulations and COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), our Tanglewood Foot Specialists team now offers telemedicine appointments. Not sure what that means? Basically, you call up our office as always, and receive an appointment slot. But instead of coming in to our Houston podiatry practice, you’ll receive a video conference call from Dr. Schneider. During your appointment, you’ll be able to show and or discuss your problem with Dr. Schneider, He will provide feedback, a treatment plan and, if necessary, will give you a prescription.
Now, we can’t give you X-rays or remove an ingrown toenail with a telemedicine appointment. But there are plenty of foot problems we can diagnose and treat remotely during this time of social distancing. And today, I’ll highlight one perfect candidate for a telemedicine appointment: a patient needing follow-up visits for a diabetic ulcer.
Why Telemedicine and Diabetic Ulcer Follow Ups Just Make Sense
Long before our not-so-special friend coronavirus turned life upside down, doctors in Canada were already studying the benefits of telemedicine. And, in their research, these doctors discovered that remote visits for ulcer follow-up care could actually be more effective for patients. Here’s why:
First of all, if you have a diabetic foot ulcer, traveling may be difficult for you, even in the best of times. But if you can get your follow-up care remotely, a telemedicine appointment removes this obstacle from your treatment plan. This translates to less missed or rescheduled appointments, so podiatrists like me can keep your recovery on track. We can also spot new problems or complications earlier when you stick to your regularly scheduled visits.
And there’s this: for some people, coming into Houston for an appointment is a major challenge. If you live in Sugar Land, it might be no big deal. But what if you’re in Spring or Tomball? All of a sudden, it’s much harder to come in and see your Houston foot specialist. Except, now, I can help treat your feet, while you get to stay home and avoid a long commute. Again, by meeting you in your space with a telemedicine visit, I can expand your access to specialist care, regardless of where you live. And I think that’s a win for everyone. Especially since, given our new circumstances, many insurance companies will now cover the cost of a telemedicine visit (check with your provider for specific details.)
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look at the studies on telemedicine visit and diabetic foot ulcers. I think you’ll find the results are very encouraging.
The Science on Telemedicine Care for Diabetic Feet
Research on telemedical care is limited because it’s a relatively new development. But, in a 2014 study in Norway, researchers compared foot ulcer patients in two different groups. Twenty patients got their follow-up care with telemedicine; 120 received face-to-face follow up visits.
Now, here’s the great news. After 12 weeks, patients in both groups experienced very similar healing times. And the percentage of healed ulcers was basically the same. In other words, when it came to follow-up ulcer care, getting your visits in remotely yielded you near identical results as in-office visits.
Of course, I’m not here to tell you that in-office visits don’t have their own advantages. Would it be my preference to connect with all my patients, in-person? Yes, obviously—seeing all of you is the one of the highlights of my day. Each and every day.
But these are challenging times that we’re living in. And pretty much no one is getting to live out their first choice. Which is why I’m grateful that, at the very least, I can offer you the same quality of diabetic ulcer care that I could in my office. Even though I hate that, at least for now, you won’t get to chat with our team members or grab a cup of joe from our complimentary lobby station. Just remember—it’s just for now, and we’ll get through this together. All while maintaining our optimal diabetic foot health!