Local dermatologists using telemedicine to treat patients


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–What was once uncommon, is now essential. The art of telemedicine is allowing patients to get the care they need without leaving home. With a click of a button, some patients can now be seen by their doctors right from the comfort of their own home.

“Once they accept [the invitation], they’ll show up in the waiting room online right here which is called the patient cue,” said Dr. Jon Ward, a Dermatologist with the Dermatology Specialists of Florida.

Patients can now avoid long commutes, waiting rooms, and interacting with others.

“You can do other things, you know you can be getting lunch ready or whatever and then it just cues you and says ‘okay it’s time for your visit’,” Dr. Ward said.

But Dr. Ward says it wasn’t always that easy. Up until March, telehealth had strict regulations.

“Previously you could not get any kind of reimbursement, it wasn’t covered by insurance. Anything like that. And now everyone’s insurance is covering,” Dr. Ward said.

The Trump administration loosened regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, doctors across the country can take full advantage of modern-day technology.

“It can make for a safer environment for our staff and for the patients that still really need to be seen face to face,” Dr. Ward said.

“I thought it was easy to access for sure,” said a patient.

While not every visit can be taken care of via telehealth, Dr. Ward says it’s a perfect fit for things like prescription re-fills, routine visits, and skin checks.

“It’s really easy to do lesion checks. You know, ‘that looks to me like a precancerous spot which is something we would typically freeze in the office’,” said Dr. Ward while looking at a patient’s skin via telehealth.

Dr. Ward says the visits are being treated just like regular in-office visits. Patients are encouraged to check with their providers first to see if telehealth is their safest option.

Dr. Ward’s office is still seeing patients in person. But he says they are introducing telemedicine to those who may not need an in-person visit.

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