Telemedicine Improves Access to GYN Surgical Specialists in Virginia

This content is sponsored by The Center for Innovative GYN Care

Virtual consultations with highly skilled minimally invasive GYN surgeons break down healthcare access barriers

When facing a gynecological condition that requires specialty care, having access to the right specialist right away can determine whether a necessary procedure is performed as a painful open or robotic procedure, or as an advanced laparoscopic procedure with a faster and less painful recovery. Access to specialty care remains a struggle for patients living in rural areas, but even in Washington, D.C., trying to make and keep doctors appointments is a challenge due to the unpredictable traffic congestion.

When patients have to schedule time for multiple opinions from specialists, it could mean days out of the office and hours in traffic. However, if a patient could schedule a consultation through the video on their mobile device or computer, the focus can be placed on what is most important: Their health.

MEETING THE DEMAND FOR TELEMEDICINE OPTIONS

A study conducted in 2016 by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and Wego Health showed that consumers are becoming more aware of and more interested in telemedicine options. Seventy-two percent of respondents who had never used telemedicine said that “No available appointments/inability to get to healthcare provider’s office due to schedule conflicts or travel time involved” would motivate them to choose a videoconference option to meet with a healthcare provider.

“Clearly consumers are not only becoming aware of telemedicine but starting to demand access to it,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the ATA. “It is becoming a part of the standard of care that should be made available throughout the country.”

GYN SURGICAL SPECIALISTS CAN SEE MORE PATIENTS SOONER

At The Center for Innovative GYN Care (CIGC) the laparoscopic surgical specialists perform advanced minimally invasive GYN procedures for large fibroids, extensive endometriosis, and other complex conditions using just two small incisions, all in an outpatient setting. Providing virtual consultations for patients pairs well with their modern approach to surgery.

“The DualPortGYN and LAAM techniques used at CIGC are designed to improve the overall experience of the patient, so that from the initial consultation, the procedure itself, and throughout the recovery, the level of care is unsurpassed,” said Paul MacKoul, MD. “Adding virtual house calls aligns with our state-of-the-art approach to minimally invasive GYN surgery.”

“When women come to us, often they have already been to multiple surgeons who have given them less palatable options for their condition,” said Natalya Danilyants, MD. “It’s emotionally stressful for them to have to face yet another specialist. Providing them with an option to schedule a preliminary consultation with one of our minimally invasive GYN specialists through an online video platform reduces much of the stress, and brings the focus back to the patient speaking to the surgeon without other distractions.”

“Our patients come from all over the world for surgery at our practice,” said Rupen Baxi, MD. “There are fewer specialists in each community compared to general practitioners, and the demand for their time is high. Opening up telemedicine consultations for patients, especially those far flung from the main cities, offers a unique opportunity to effectively make house calls. This level of care is better for the patient and the specialist. It ensures that the time invested is productive and in the best interest of the patient. If surgery is recommended, the patient travels once for an outpatient procedure and then recovers comfortably at home. The surgeon can do a follow-up via video and the patient’s overall experience is superior.”

TELEMEDICINE TECHNOLOGY AND REGULATIONS STRUGGLING TO KEEP PACE

The high-tech world of telemedicine continues to expand both in availability and in scope of coverage, while individual states work to ensure standards of care are maintained through legislation. The framework for allowing multi-state licensure of physicians for telemedicine visits is still being constructed. In most cases, physicians must have a license in the state where the patient resides in order to offer them a virtual consultation, but what that covers varies for each state. That limits access for patients who seek a specific specialist and who may be willing to travel for surgical care, but would prefer a preliminary consultation to make the best decisions.

The Federation of State Medical Boards, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, has championed the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which would provide doctors who want to practice across state lines an easier way to apply for and receive the necessary licenses. This framework ensures that states can participate in the growing need for telehealth options while preserving the individual states’ rights to maintain licensure and regulation of clinicians.

“Due to the large number of patients who travel to our practice, it is clear that a virtual consultation option is important to offer to these patients in particular,” said Dr. MacKoul. “Existing telemedicine regulations allow us to offer this service in Virginia, but as the regulations evolve, having the service in place now will allow us to include additional states.”

The Center for Innovative GYN Care is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. CIGC minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD developed advanced GYN surgical techniques using only two small incisions. Dr. Rupen Baxi, MD is a minimally invasive GYN specialist at CIGC with extensive fellowship training and a respected speaker and researcher.

Learn more about virtual consultations for patients living in Virginia. Book a consultation at The Center for Innovative GYN Care or call 888-787-4379.

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