The rapid spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) throughout the world has had a tremendous impact not only on those who were infected, but on a great many individuals and especially on the healthcare system.

Our main goals as physicians and urologists during this pandemic are to prevent our patients from getting COVID-19, to continue to deliver optimal urologic care, and to protect ourselves as healthcare professionals, so that we can continue to uninterruptedly provide the needed care for our community throughout this health crisis.

Urologic telemedicine can decrease patient contact in order to make patients feel more comfortable receiving care.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, is an application used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease including videoconferencing software, mobile applications, wearable devices and monitors. The concept of telemedicine was originally initiated in the late 1990s in the financial realm with incorporation of online banking, trading and bill. Nowadays, telemedicine is incorporated in many healthcare facilities, including virtual practices and hospitals. The utilization of this important tool has exponentially increased in the time of COVID-19 pandemic.

We, at Upstate Urology at MVHS, began initiating telemedicine services to all our patients early on, recognizing the urgent need for this practical and “safe” service during these critical times. In fact, more than 90 percent of our patients are currently receiving care virtually.

Is it still private?

We are using a secure, confidential, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliant connection with each individual patient, every day, 5 days a week.

Although physical contact with patients can never be replaced, currently, urologic telemedicine enables an optimal alternative to see and listen to patients, examine them visually, and diagnose and treat them expeditiously and discretely at the convenience of their own home.

Will this always be an option?

Like many others, we also believe that telemedicine, despite its obvious limitations, is here to stay in some form, perhaps even after the anticipated demise of COVID-19 from our precious planet. This type of healthcare modality has significant advantages in keeping patients at risk safe, and avoiding the hassles and logistics of transportation and commute to the clinic, especially in older and more comorbid patients (Please see additional links below).

As we deal with COVID-19 worldwide, we as physicians and urologists strongly feel that it is our responsibility to provide excellent evidence-based medicine urological care in any way possible, using all technological applications in our disposal. In this ever-changing dynamic world, where health crisis can sweep the world and change our way of life as we know it, telemedicine is the appropriate move in the right direction, enabling continuation of optimized patient care, while keeping all patients and healthcare staff SAFE.

Dr. Hanan Goldberg contributed this article.

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