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Telemedicine and you

doctor's picture on a phone

Telemedicine is the word of the moment in health care as more and more practitioners are going online to help with social distancing. You’re probably wondering just what services you can offer in the virtual world, what best practices are, and how to make your services effective and meaningful. Telemedicine (also known as telehealth, virtual visits, and mobile health) has been getting a lot more attention lately, but it’s been around for a long time and it has been a hot topic in health care research and policy making Lucky for you, that means there is already a great deal of research and writing on the topic already. 

Some of the big names in health care, like the American Medical Association, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have published guidelines for using telemedicine. Their standards and protocols are a good idea to review regardless of the type of practice you have. 

There are fewer official resources that specifically address best practices for tele-TCM, but many practitioners have been informally sharing their experiences online. For example, acupuncturist Dr. Lorne Brown recorded this talk with two telemedicine providers who share their experience and discuss how to get started in your own clinic.

 Another acupuncture-specific resource is this presentation created for the American Acupuncture Council that focuses on insurance and billing telemedicine.

The American Association of Acupuncturists offers this post about best practices for prescribing Chinese herbal medicines during virtual visits.

And for those of you who want to take a deeper dive into the research, as always PubMed is a fantastic, freely available resource. Many of the articles have free full-text available for anyone, but for current OCOM students, staff, faculty, and alumni association members remember: even if the article isn’t immediately available online, we can almost always get an article for you for free through interlibrary loan. Even in this time of closed schools and libraries, getting an article through ILL usually only takes a day or two! 

Here are a few recent articles on telemedicine available in PubMed: 

A digital embrace to blunt the curve of COVID19 pandemic

Ethical practice in Telehealth and Telemedicine (login required)

Barriers and Facilitators That Influence Telemedicine-Based, Real-Time, Online Consultation at Patients’ Homes: Systematic Literature Review.

Telemedicine Infectious Diseases Consultations and Clinical Outcomes: A Systematic Review