Nov 4, 2015

Interviewer: How about the next time you need to see the doctor, you don't have to go into the office, but you can see your physician virtually? We're going to talk about virtual doctor visits next on The Scope.

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Interviewer: Dr. Nathan Bexfield is with University of Utah Health Care at the South Jordan Health Center. A brand new thing, because of technology, is starting to happen called virtual visits and I want to find out more about how I can visit my doctor virtually and what conditions qualify. So thanks for taking time. Tell me more about virtual visits.

Dr. Bexfield: Virtual visits are a very cool thing that we have happening here. You can have a visit with your doctor on your computer, on your iPad, iPhone, on your smartphone and just talk to them about what's going on. And we can even diagnose some disorders and some rashes and illnesses via the technology that we have.

Interviewer: So are you using live video streaming. Is it like I call you on FaceTime?

Dr. Bexfield: Yeah, it's like a FaceTime or a Skype call. It goes through something called True Clinic and we are able to talk to you and interact with you like we would if we were in the office.

Interviewer: All right. So if I have a cold, is that a good thing for Virtual Visit?

Dr. Bexfield: Actually, that one's not.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Bexfield: Because that's one where we actually need to lay hands on you and listen to the heart, listen to the lungs, make sure you don't have any ear infection or anything else going on. So we need you to be in the office for that type of visit.

Interviewer: Yeah. So what virtual visits, what are they good for? What conditions?

Dr. Bexfield: Things that we can see so things like rashes. Sometimes eye things that we can look at and just tell whether or not you have a very simple pink eye or something like that. Other things that it's good for are behavioral health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD, things like that where we are mostly discussing on how things are going, how medication is working, and things like that.

Interviewer: So a follow-up visit.

Dr. Bexfield: Yes.

Interviewer: And why is that beneficial?

Dr. Bexfield: An initial visit where we diagnose those sort of things requires us to do a physical exam and have a little more interaction face-to-face as opposed to virtually.

Interviewer: Yeah. And then those follow-up visits, why is it advantageous not to have to come into the clinic?

Dr. Bexfield: Well, often those follow-up visits are every 3 to 6 months so while that's not super often, we want to make things as convenient as possible. If you don't have to come in for the visit, and you can just talk to me for 15 or 20 minutes through a call, then we can do that. You can do that on your lunch break at work if you want to.

Interviewer: How do you get on the road to a virtual visit?

Dr. Bexfield: You call and make the appointment through our call center.

Interviewer: Just like I would call to make any appointment.

Dr. Bexfield: Exactly.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Bexfield: And they will send you an email, which will have a link that you just click on and it will take you right to the platform that we use for the actual visit.

Interviewer: Do I have to ask for the virtual visit, or is that something the receptionist will offer based on what I've told them?

Dr. Bexfield: They should offer it to you, depending on what the complaint is. But if they don't, and you're wondering whether or not you can do a virtual visit, then just ask.

Interviewer: Okay. And then after I've made that appointment, how quickly does that turn around?

Dr. Bexfield: Well, it's like any other appointment. If you could be seen in the same day, we could do the virtual visit in the same day.

Interviewer: Gotcha. And if it's a rash you'd just take a look at it and you'd go, "Well, that's an easily identifiable rash. I'll write you a prescription." And bing, bang, boom, done.

Dr. Bexfield: Exactly. If we can diagnose it through the virtual visit, then that's even better. Sometimes, there are going to be cases where we can't really tell for sure whether or not it's something that we can diagnose, or whether or not it's something that we need to see in the office. So if that's the case, we may ask you to come in.

Interviewer: And if you have a physician relationship already, and maybe a reoccurring condition, you just need a refill or something that required an office visit at one point, you might even be able to do that virtually, I suppose.

Dr. Bexfield: That is definitely conceivable.

Interviewer: How is this going to change health care?

Dr. Bexfield: I think it's going to make it easy on the patients. I think if you have trouble with transportation, getting in to the clinic, this is going to make things easy for you to do some stuff at home. We can basically do anything through the Internet these days now, so why not do medicine?

Interviewer: And completely secure and private?

Dr. Bexfield: Yes. And that's why we go through True Clinic, as opposed to a FaceTime or a Skype platform. True Clinic is secure; it keeps everything private.

Interviewer: Anything else that you feel compelled to say that I forgot to ask?

Dr. Bexfield: Virtual visits are going to make things way easier on parents, especially parents who have lots of kids. I think we're going to have parents who really appreciate the fact that they can get into and see their doctor whenever they like, provided we have an appointment available, from the comfort of their own home.

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