TeleHealth has been around long before COVID-19 came into the scene. The earliest records of providing health care services remotely were printed in a 1879 article in one of the oldest peer-reviewed general medical journals, suggested the use of the telephone to reduce unnecessary office visits.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207141/ Later in 1925 the cover of Science and Invention magazine showed a doctor diagnosing a patient by radio.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207141/.
Fast forward to today and the use of TeleHealth has taken a dominant role in the way that practitioners and patients can interact with each other in the privacy of the physician’s office and the patient’s home, while abiding by all rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPAA)3https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/health-insurance-portability-and-accountability-act-1996. The technology is very sophisticated and with proper workflow, a TeleHealth session can be in most cases equally satisfying and, more importantly, as productive as an office visit.
In 2014, I started to offer TeleHealth to our St. Augustine, and St. Johns county patients using Skype. There wasn’t much interest at that time, and frankly, I was very busy with treating patients in my clinic. So I was not disappointed by the low response from visitors to my site. Besides, how can an acupuncturist offer needle therapy through TeleHealth? The answer is easy.
In Florida, the scope of practice for the acupuncture profession is very wide.4http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0457/0457.html And, while we are better known for using needles during therapy, the fact is that our system of medicine includes a number of diagnosing and treatment methods that go beyond the piercing of the skin. Keep in mind that acupuncture is just one aspect of a larger body of medicine known as Chinese Medicine, which includes herbal formulas, dietary consultations, therapeutic exercises, meditative techniques, and other interventions with the aim of preventing disease and enhancing our patient’s health hygiene through lifestyle modifications.
Furthermore, as a certified practitioner of Functional medicine, I offer a wide array of medical services including lab workup, identification of nutritional deficiencies, anti-inflammatory protocols, liver detoxification programs, Qi Gong and meditative exercises, and much more. All of these services can be, and are already being done through TeleHealth by many like-minded practitioners and used by a large group of patients of all ages who are progressive and willing to think outside the box. TeleHealth is here to stay!
See you online!
Fernando Bernall, AP, CFMP