Over the years, Gary has had three surgeries with IBJI’s Dr. Alexander Gordon. Gary had both of his knees replaced and most recently his left hip replaced. Gary’s hip replacement surgery took place on February 6th, 2020, before the Coronovirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused surgeries to be postponed in the United States. This pandemic has changed the way that patients visit their doctors. For Gary, his follow-up appointment would now take place through Telemedicine.
A series of appointments were made in advance of Gary’s surgery, before the Coronavirus started rapidly spreading. For his last visit, Gary was asked if he would be comfortable doing a telemedicine visit. “I had no apprehension about doing it. It was my first time doing it this way. My initial reaction, given what’s going on in the country, I was very grateful I did not have to take the risk of going into the doctor’s office. Being a senior with underlying health conditions, the opportunity to stay home and doing [a virtual visit] is appreciated,” said Gary.
In advance of the telemedicine visit, Dr. Gordon’s team sent Gary an email confirming the visit and the steps he would need to take to proceed with it. “[The process] was well done and clear. Technology is not my strong suit, the clarity they provided made it a comfortable process. I did not feel intimidated by it.”
The IBJI team called Gary 15 minutes before his scheduled virtual appointment time to make sure that he was still comfortable to proceed. After he confirmed that he was still comfortable, Gary called in to his visit a few minutes early to make sure that everything was working correctly on his phone.
During the visit, Gary told Dr. Gordon that he was almost unable to walk before his hip replacement in February. His recovery was going well and on a scale of 1 to 10 he felt he was at a 12 with virtually no pain and was able to walk again.
Dr. Gordon looked at the incision to see if it was healing well. By using his cell phone camera, Gary was able to focus on the incision so that Dr. Gordon could assess it. Dr. Gordon described in detail what he saw and told Gary that everything was healing terrifically.
“[During the virtual visit] he walked through and reinforced everything I was doing in my recovery the last few months. From a patient perspective, this was the first time for me, so everything is unknown. You may think everything is healing well, but it is a phenomenal thing to visit with the surgeon and have him reinforce that everything is in fact going well. You go into the appointment thinking it’s okay and come out knowing it’s okay.”
Gary said that he was as comfortable with the telemedicine visit as if he were there in person. “I felt it was the appropriate amount of time for a visit. I had all the time I needed to ask whatever questions I had and to digest the answers. I never felt rushed and Dr. Gordon was very respectful and made sure I was comfortable with the end result.”
When asked about this new care option, Gary said that telemedicine makes a huge impact during the current time we are living in. “With the guidelines we’ve heard on social distancing, telemedicine makes [seeing the doctor] not a challenge. When you’re going to the doctor, keeping social distancing in practice is hard. You are worried about what you are touching, and the other patients in the waiting room.”
Gary continued, “You do [the virtual visit] at a specific time and you’re there. You don’t have to go outside and run the risk of going out. All of those worries go away. It’s more convenient.”
Gary said that his telemedicine visit was just the tip of the iceberg for his overall care at IBJI. “Before my three surgeries, the quality of my life was deteriorating. After the surgeries, my quality of life is better. From beginning to end, the process the team followed was outstanding. I said to the doctor during my telemedicine visit that I am forever grateful to him and his team, for I believe he gave me my life back. 90% of my success is what the staff did to help prepare me for it, whether it was in person or virtual. The thoroughness, and patience they had with me to make sure I didn’t feel worried and getting all my questions answered. Preparation was the majority of my success.”
If another telemedicine visit was requested in the future, Gary said he would have no problem at all, and would even be willing to talk to other patients who are going through the process to help and encourage them.
Alexander Gordon, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating hip and knee conditions in adults.