Should I see my doctor in person or just call? Navigating health in a pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some people have avoided in-person visits to their doctor and more clinics are offering Telehealth services.

Dr. Parminder Singh, a managing director of clinical services based in Toronto, says the pandemic has catalyzed the end experience of virtual care.

Singh joined The Morning Show to explain when in-person check-ups are necessary, and when a phone call will do.

READ MORE: Ontario doctors, patient advocates say telemedicine spurred by COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay

Patients now have the ability to communicate with their doctors virtually, rather than spending hours waiting to go into an examination room, Singh says.

“In times we’ve often thought, ‘Why do I need to go into the doctor’s office for this? Why can’t we just do this over the phone?’ And now you certainly can.”

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“(But) not everything can be replaced.”

Some of the health issues that can be addressed using telemedicine are minor skin problems, urinary or sinus tract infections, sexual health-care screening or hormonal contraception.

Singh says that if you’re able to send the doctor a photo of your health problem, that can be better than the resolution on your webcam.

“Doctors can review labs, images and specialist reports,” Singh says, adding that they can also monitor long-term concerns such as hypertension.

READ MORE: Demand surges for virtual health care amid novel coronavirus pandemic

Singh emphasizes the importance of seeking treatment for mental health issues, which have been highlighted during the pandemic.

He adds that people can get a virtual assessment and receive treatment.

Though many physicians are now offering telemedicine services for convenience, Singh says some things that aren’t amendable to virtual care.

Click to play video 'Manitoba doctors hoping for expansion of virtual care'

Manitoba doctors hoping for expansion of virtual care

Manitoba doctors hoping for expansion of virtual care – Oct 23, 2020

He says you should seek in-person treatment if you’re experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of neurological function and ear pain, or anything else where the doctor would need to do a physical exam.

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READ MORE: Virtual emergency rooms bridge gap between health-care professionals, patients amid pandemic

He adds that you shouldn’t be afraid to go to the emergency room or call 911 if you’re dealing with immediate, debilitating concerns.

For people considering postponing medical procedures, Singh says you should talk to your doctor.

“Your physician is the best person who can tell you whether this is a safe thing to do or not,” he says, adding we should still rely on experts when it comes to our health.

Singh says he hopes telemedicine is here to stay.

“The best thing that we can do … is pick up the phone and schedule an online appointment with your doctor and have a discussion.”

For more information on telemedicine services, watch the full video above. 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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