Virtual care visits have now been expanded to include orthopaedic appointments at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network. During COVID-19, these telehealth appointments act as a safe way to be seen by your orthopaedic specialist while adhering to social distancing guidelines. As in-person visits begin to return with heightened safety precautions, telehealth video visits will remain a convenient, alternative option to receive your orthopaedic care for many conditions.
“We started offering telehealth video visits as soon as we became aware that direct patient contact could pose a risk to everyone involved,” said Anthony LoGiudice, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and co-director for the orthopaedic clinic at the Center for Advanced Care at Froedtert Hospital. “But as we slowly return to seeing patients again in person, we will still be offering these virtual visits to expand our availability beyond just the physical clinical building.”
What Orthopaedic Conditions Can Be Treated Virtually?
The specialists within orthopaedics can use video visits to examine a variety of conditions, so long as they don’t require in-person urgent or emergency care. In that case, call 911 if you think your condition is life-threatening or you have an injury to an extremity that can potentially cause permanent loss of function or loss of a limb. While not all orthopedic conditions are appropriate for telehealth, video visits with an orthopaedic specialist may be utilized for:
- Surgery Follow-up Appointments, to check how recovery is going after a shoulder, knee, wrist or other orthopaedic surgery
- Chronic Conditions, such as arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, trigger fingers or tennis elbow
- New or Acute Injuries, such as ankle or knee sprains, or meniscus tears
- X-ray and Other Imaging Reviews, where providers can review existing X-rays with patients to share findings and offer expert analysis on treatment plans moving forward
- Second Opinions, where providers can either confirm an initial assessment or recommend a new treatment path
Orthopedic providers will help determine whether your visit can be managed through a virtual visit or whether they feel an in-person visit would best serve your needs for your particular condition. Should an in-person visit be necessary, we have taken multiple precautions to keep you safe. To avoid virus exposure, our universal masking policy is in place, along with enhanced screening and cleaning protocols, heighted hand hygiene awareness and temporary visitor restrictions.
How Do Orthopaedic Video Visits Work?
Orthopaedic video visits are completed through a patient’s MyChart account and must be scheduled by calling 414-805-3666 or 1-800-DOCTORS. Once scheduled, patients can access their video visit through the MyChart section of the Froedtert & MCW app on a smart phone or tablet. If using a laptop or desktop computer, video visits can be accessed through mychartlink.com. If you are a new patient to the Froedtert & MCW health network, please call 1-800-DOCTORS to get started.
When you have a video visit scheduled, you’re encouraged to check in about 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time. This lets the provider know you’re ready and available for your appointment. When the provider is ready, they will confirm your appointment and connect with you via video technology. The appointment itself is a lot like an in-person exam, where the physician can demonstrate and ask you to perform certain motions and observe how the movements are made and if any pain is being felt. Often, providers can make a diagnosis by knowing your medical history, listening to your symptoms and watching you move.
“Visually demonstrating techniques for therapy or stretches and then being able to see the expression on patients’ faces – if they’re struggling or experiencing pain – when they repeat back the demonstrations is invaluable,” Dr. LoGiudice said. “That is something that a simple telephone call can’t deliver.”
What Are Additional Advantages of Orthopaedic Video Visits?
As in-person appointments begin to safely return, the advantages of these orthopaedic video visits go beyond just avoiding a trip to the doctor’s office. If a video visit is right for you, you won’t have to complete physical check-in paperwork or wait in a physical waiting room, allowing you more free time to go about your day. Plus, video visits can be completed anywhere convenient for you, as long as you have the technological access and a quiet space to talk to your provider. This can be especially helpful for busy schedules and avoids having to take time off of work or school.
Also, telehealth appointments allow for greater and faster care access, giving certain immobile and physically distant patient populations a new way to be seen by their orthopaedic specialists – sometimes in a matter of days. Going forward, virtual visits could be the new norm for established patients’ routine follow-up appointments.
“We have patients who come to see us in Milwaukee who have to travel from the Upper Peninsula,” Dr. LoGiudice said. “That drive is not enviable for nothing more than a routine visit when medical records can be electronically transferred and X-rays can be obtained up there and sent down here. Why make the drive when we can simply have a discussion from their couch or kitchen counter.”
Will My Orthopaedic Video Visit Be Covered by My Insurance?
Specialty care virtual appointments may be available to you depending on your health care needs. Consult your insurance plan about your telehealth benefits, as many health plans have expanded telehealth coverage during COVID-19.
To see if a telehealth appointment with an orthopaedic specialist is right for you, call 414-805-3666 or 1-800-DOCTORS.