Doctors adapt to treating patients virtually during COVID-19 pandemic

2020 brought many changes and telemedicine was thrust into the go-to method for non-urgent medical needs.

Many in the field believe it’s here to stay.

“Through this pandemic experience, I think across specialities we’ve gained a lot more experience on how to use these tools to deliver health care right in a patient’s home,” said McGill assistant professor in cardiology, Dr. Abhinav Sharma.

Sharma’s research focuses on cardiovascular disease and digital health.

He says nothing can replace face-to-face consultations, but he says a lot can be done virtually. 

“We ask routine questions such as are you more short of breath today than you were last week. Have you gained weight? Do you notice any swelling in your legs? Have you been taking your medications?” said Sharma. 

Sharma is working on an app called My Heart Counts Canada. It uses Health Canada recommendations and monitors a person’s physical activity and suggests appropriate exercise routines.

“We do hope to allow the app to be widely disseminated so that physicians don’t necessarily have to be there to do all of those consultations and that the app itself can take over,” said Sharma.

Dr. Christopher Labos says many of his appointments are now done virtually and for many patients it’s a huge time saver.

“If you think about before to go to your doctor you had to take basically a half day off work, if not a full day off work to make an appointment to go there. And you would lose most of your day,” said cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos. “Having patients come in for routine, non-urgent stuff hopefully will be a thing of the past.”

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