Thanks to smart phones and digital health tools that make it easy to connect with patients, the use of video doctor visits is quickly expanding across a wide range of specialty areas, including one that may come as a surprise—orthopedic care.
At NYU Langone, doctors are doing away with the notion that orthopedics is always “hands-on.” Using the latest technology, our experts can address a variety of orthopedic injuries and conditions, while patients can safely show areas of tenderness and pain, as well as demonstrate range of motion and strength, during a video visit. Simply put, a physical exam is not a barrier to care.
While seeing your doctor via a computer or cellphone is not exactly new, many people who need orthopedic care may not be aware of the virtual possibilities. Orthopedic video visits can be used throughout diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, and as a complement to in-person exams. Based on your video visit, your doctor or physical or occupational therapist can determine whether an in-person visit is necessary.
“Video visits are a very powerful tool,” says orthopedic surgeon Kirk A. Campbell, MD. “It gives us the opportunity to offer efficient care and make really good diagnoses, and can lead to the initiation or continuation of a treatment plan.”
Postoperative check-ups via video, which spare patients a trip to the doctor’s office after surgery, are one of the most common types of video visit. Here are five other types of appointments that are also well-suited for orthopedic video visits.
1. First-Time Appointments
Musculoskeletal complaints are usually self-evident. “Patients know if their finger is crooked or if their shoulder is slipping in and out of place,” Dr. Graham says. “First-time visits are therefore extremely well-suited for video.”
Be prepared to give your orthopedic surgeon as much information as possible: how you injured yourself, how long you have been in pain, and how the injury is limiting your daily routine. Your orthopedic surgeon may ask you to perform tasks to assess your range of motion and take a look at your skin, nails, or any lumps or bumps.
2. Second Opinions
Second opinions are a valuable tool when you are making decisions about your care, particularly if your doctor has recommended surgery. Choosing video visits for second opinions can save you time plus the cost and stress of having to make multiple trips to a new medical office when you are injured.
To ensure you get the most out of the appointment, provide your doctor with all the information about your injury and any recommendations your orthopedic surgeon has made. This is the perfect time to ask any questions you have so you can leverage the second opinion and make an informed decision about your treatment plan.
3. Physical and Occupational Therapy
Our physical and occupational therapists offer the same level of personalized care whether you attend your appointment in person or over a video visit. In addition to saving both time and the cost of travel, you can enjoy the convenience of doing your therapy at home.
Your physical or occupational therapist performs a virtual examination to assess pain, strength, range of motion, function, and sports-specific movements. Based on the examination, your therapist prescribes an individualized treatment plan that may consist of self-mobilization techniques, exercise, and education. The convenience of using video visits for physical or occupational therapy may also cut down on your need to postpone or cancel appointments because of schedule conflicts.
4. Emergency Care Appointments
There are many different types of acute injuries: sprained ankles, strained backs, dislocated shoulders, broken wrists, and pulled muscles. They are not always severe and do not always warrant a trip to the emergency department. A video doctor visit may be ideal when you are not sure if your injury requires emergency care or an in-person visit with your orthopedic surgeon.
Your orthopedic surgeon can assess your injury and determine whether you need X-rays and what your next steps should be.
5. Appointments to Review Diagnostic Tests
Your orthopedic surgeon may have ordered X-rays, an MRI, or other scan during a video visit. “Because we offer imaging services throughout the New York City area, you can go to a location that is closer to your home,” Dr. Graham says. “Everything lives in your NYU Langone Health MyChart account, so I can review the scans with my patients during a second appointment that can also take place virtually.”
This seamless patient experience can cut down the time you spend in a waiting room and also minimize the number of hours you may have otherwise missed from work.
“NYU Langone has such an extensive system of outpatient imaging facilities,” Dr. Campbell says. “Our integrated medical record system enables me to prescribe images and observe them with patients during their video visit. We save people a lot of time and cost with the video visit.”