'Telemedicine is here to stay' — 5 spine surgeons on benefits + future of the technology 

Alan Condon -   Print  |

Five spine surgeons discuss the impact of telemedicine and how the technology will develop post-pandemic.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: Will consolidation continue to be a trend post-pandemic? What are the most important considerations when deciding on a strategic partner today?

Please send responses to Alan Condon at acondon@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, July 1.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How has the expansion of telemedicine helped your practice? How do you see the technology developing?

Vladimir Sinkov, MD. Sinkov Spine Center (Las Vegas): The expansion of telemedicine has helped tremendously. I was able to see patients in another state and one of them traveled here to Nevada to undergo spine surgery. Telemedicine allows spine surgeons to reach more patients, it gives patients easier access to physicians and enables more physician-patient interaction in this time of social distancing. In-person visits with the ability to perform a full physical exam is still a gold standard, but telemedicine visits can be a great addition to clinical practice for initial consultations or quick follow-up visits. I am hoping insurance carriers and Medicare will allow patients to continue having the option of a virtual visit, even after the social distancing restrictions are over.  

Jeffrey Wang, MD. USC Spine Center (Los Angeles): Telemedicine is a great example of adversity leading to finding better ways to do things. Telemedicine is here to stay, and for many patients, even if things resume back to normal, we will continue to utilize this technology. It can be a good screening tool, a way to check in with patients that are doing well, but live far away, or for routine follow-up patients who have no serious issues. Telemedicine provides us with an opportunity to provide the same level of excellent medical care in a more convenient way for patients.

Noam Stadlan, MD. NorthShore Neurological Institute (Evanston, Ill.): Telemedicine has helped me stay in touch with existing patients and see new patients while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. It has made the visit process more convenient for patients. Another advantage is it has also enabled me to see patients who are geographically distant. Some of those patients are existing patients away on vacation or extended winter stays, and some are new patients. When functioning optimally, the technology works extremely well. The short-term developments will be in maximizing the function of the systems and making them easier to use and more widely available. Currently, the major drawback is the inability to perform detailed examination of patients. Perhaps new technology will be able to address that function.

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: Telemedicine has afforded greater access for my older and remote patients. By clicking a link, you can be connected. I think telemedicine will also facilitate greater contact between experts and prospective patients, even outside their respective geographical area.

Richard Kube, MD. Prairie Spine (Peoria, Ill.): It has not affected us tremendously to date. It has had a much greater impact for the primary physicians with whom we work.

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