Preparing for Virtual Functional Medicine Appointments in Tampa

By: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

It took a health pandemic for people to appreciate the value of being healthy rather than just being “not sick” or being able to manage symptoms. In today’s world, underlying chronic diseases place all of us at a significantly higher risk for complications and death from COVID-19.

As a result, the medical community is beginning to see a growing interest among the general population in the detection, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases. Among these are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), autoimmunity and other immune system disorders, kidney disease, and metabolic disorders.

At the same time, advances in technology have made prevention, diagnosis, and management of these and other chronic diseases easier than ever, while reducing the risk of exposure to infectious diseases that may be inherent in physical office visits. Increasingly, patients are scheduling virtual doctor visits via Zoom and other video-conferencing apps, and I am loving these telemedicine consultations.

In this post, I highlight the benefits of telemedicine and provide some tips to optimize these virtual doctor consultations.

Telemedicine Benefits for Doctors and Patients

Today, most doctor appointments last 7-15 minutes at the most. Patients typically spend far more time driving to the office and sitting in the waiting room than they do with their doctors. A 15-minute visit (again, max) may be enough time to check in with your doctor, but it is woefully inadequate for dealing with any complex issues — especially chronic conditions. That is, unless you’re looking for a quick-fix prescription, which isn’t a solution at all. It’s usually just a band-aid.

For doctors and patients committed to tracking down the root cause of health conditions, a consultative approach that provides you with ample time to speak — and be heard — is essential. Telemedicine, it turns out, may provide the additional time and focus to optimize the effectiveness of doctor visits.

As my experience with telemedicine has grown, I have become increasingly aware of its benefits, which include the following:

  • Patients tend to be more relaxed and at ease in their own environments. They often tell me they feel a profound reduction in their anxiety. Much of this anxiety is from patients already feeling overwhelmed and judged about their health, especially those who have been to multiple healthcare providers, specialists, and even hospital emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. They are tired of traveling and then waiting around and frustrated at not getting the type of care they need and deserve.
  • I’m happier and more relaxed during these telemedicine consultations, and a happy, relaxed doctor is refreshing for most patients who have become accustomed to rushed office visits. A doctor who is rapidly moving from room to room just putting out fires, is not always in the best state of mind for her or his patients.
  • Driving and wait times are eliminated.
  • Potential distractions are reduced for both doctor and patients.
  • Doctor visits feel more personal, like they did decades ago when doctors made house calls (home visits, for you who are young enough not to remember house calls).
  • Visits are more focused for doctor and patient. I can be laser-focused on one patient — you — and not be available for disruptions from back office staff at the practice.
  • Including your spouse or partner in the consultation is much easier.

Tips for Engaging in a Telemedicine Consultation

To make your telemedicine consultation as pleasant and productive as it can possibly be, take the following steps:

  1. Get comfortable with the technology: You don’t need to be a computer whiz, but you should be comfortable using your smartphone or computer. Telemedicine technology is not complicated to set up or use, but basic smartphone or computer skills are necessary.
  2. Prepare the technology ahead of time: Check your computer and the teleconferencing app you’re using. (Call your doctor’s office at least one day before your scheduled visit to find out which video platform to use, so you have time to install it. Check to make sure the audio and video are working, and get up to speed on using it.)
  3. Audio: Consider using a headset (headphones with a microphone attached, is ideal) for optimal sound quality. Look for headsets that plug into the audio jack on a smartphone or computer or Bluetooth headsets that connect wirelessly, assuming your smartphone or computer is Bluetooth-enabled.
  4. Measurements and vitals: Have your height and weight ready to provide to the doctor. And if you have a blood pressure cuff, pulse meter, thermometer, or blood sugar monitor or test kit, take your readings 20 minutes prior to your scheduled telehealth visit and provide them to the doctor at your appointment.
  5. Questions: Write down any questions you have for your doctor and have your list with you during the call.
  6. Avoid distractions: Turn off the ringer on your telephone, close other apps and webpages, and disable any push notices that may interfere with your appointment.
  7. Location: Choose a location for your session where you will not be disturbed or overheard. During the call, sit in a location where the light shines on your face and you are not backlit (in front of a window or lamp). Walking around with your device can be disorienting and dizzying for the person on the other end of the video call.

To schedule a telemedicine consultation with me, please visit the Appointment page here on my site. If you are already one of my patients, I will let you know whenever an in-office visit at BioDesign Wellness Center is necessary or recommended.

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About the Author: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®, specializes in diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of the symptoms related to chronic and unexplained illness through nutrition, lifestyle, chiropractic, and other natural approaches to whole-health healing in Tampa, Florida. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Shenandoah University, his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University, his Diplomate status in Clinical Nutrition from the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, his CFMP® from Functional Medicine University, and his certification as a Digestive Health Specialist (DHS) through the Food Enzyme Institute. Dr. Lewis’ passion for health and wellness stems from his own personal experience. With a family history of autoimmune conditions and diabetes, and his own lab tests showing his genetic susceptibility to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid), he has learned how to restore his own health and vigor to prevent the onset of these and other illnesses and live an incredibly active life. Through this process, he acquired a deeper understanding of health and wellness, which he now offers his patients in Tampa.

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