What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a technology based medical appointment. Using solutions like zoom, or other platforms, providers are able to establish or continue a relationship with patients. In most cases, a two way video feed is set up to allow the patient and provider to interact face to face. Sometimes patients prefer a telephone call, or internet connection may not support a video consult. Using the phone still allows providers to help patients, but without the feeling that this is an in person visit.  Some people refer to this type of technology as a “virtual visit”. This technology allows some providers to treat pilonidal conditions without the need for travel.

Who can participate in a Telemedicine visit for a pilonidal?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine was used on a more limited basis. As of March 18th, the federal government made changes to allow almost anyone to obtain a virtual visit with any provider that can offer this technology. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians are typically qualified to perform these visits. Because pilonidal disease is common, and patients need guidance, virtual visits are the best way we can help patients at this time.

What to expect from a virtual visit?

It’s a lot like an in person visit with your provider, but you can do it from the comfort of your home or work. Your provider will set up a private space for them to work, but you have to make sure that you have a private space to be in. If you want family members to participate in the visit, they can be in the same space as you, or anywhere else, as long as they have internet connection.

Typically the visit will go something like this:

  • Your provider and you will be introduced, and some of your personal information will be confirmed
  • Your provider will let you know that they will by typing into your medical record during the visit
  • You will then tell the provider the reason for your visit in your own words
  • The provider may ask you clarifying questions, to better understand your condition – this part is very important because your story is the most important component of a virtual visit.
  • The provider will often summarize your story, to make sure that they heard you correctly and have a good understanding of what is happening with you.
  • Next, the provider may ask you to take your pulse, blood pressure (if you have a monitor at home), temperature
  • Your provider may ask you to check part of your body for aches, swelling in order to mimic the physical exam that they would normally do.  This part can also be very helpful to the visit, so find a private place to do this.
  • Your provider may ask you to forward pictures or show the pilonidal on the screen, so that they can better help you. Privacy is clearly important here.
  • Once all the information is collected by your provider, they will summarize your story again, together with the findings of your physical examination and provide you with the most likely diagnosis.
  • If you require further treatment, like prescription medicine, the provider can prescribe to your pharmacy electronically.
  • If you require an intervention like surgery, your provider will explain the procedure in detail.  A short follow up visit prior to surgery will likely be required to confirm the indications of surgery.
  • I you require physical therapy for a condition, you may be provided with a referral or instruction on some exercises you can do at home

How should you prepare for a visit?

Prepare you computer or phone 5-10 minutes ahead. Ideally you should be in a private room and wear headphones.  Arrive to the visit a few minutes early to make sure your device is working well.

If you are seeing a new provider, you may want to prepare a list of your medical history using a form like this.  Your provider will ask you questions about this information and it’s better if you have it prepared ahead of time.

Lauren Ott, PA-C is a hernia and pilonidal expert and is offering telemedicine consultations.  Dr. Michael Reinhorn is a hernia and pilonidal expert and has been offering telemedicine second opinions using 2nd.md since 2014.  Both of our providers are proficient with the technology and have expertise that can be used to help many people remotely.