Telemedicine can empower patients to get the care they desire with less time and financial constraints.
—Paris Kharbat, DO
Telemedicine practices are gaining in popularity as patient demand for virtual care increases, offering a new level of convenience for patients who can access care from the comfort of their own homes1 with less wait time.2 Patients, especially those in rural areas who are constrained by location or the availability of physical medical facilities, can easily access quality care through telemedicine.3
The virtual practice model offers a range of benefits for clinicians too, from lower operating costs to flexible practice locations and increased efficiency during the appointment. In the video below, IFM Certified Practitioner Paris Kharbat, DO, talks about her experience practicing telemedicine and working with health coaches at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
Dr. Kharbat has been practicing osteopathic medicine for over 21 years with strong ties to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. Now, she runs a virtual Functional Medicine telemedicine practice, seeing patients from all over the country. Her practice includes a concierge service, where she visits patients needing frequent care in their own home.
Some studies suggest that telemedicine may be just as effective as in-person diagnostic and therapeutic consultation.4-5 Telemedicine may improve healthcare delivery by offering services on a more on-demand basis; patients can avoid unnecessary urgent care or emergency room visits when their health provider is just a call, email, or video chat away. This allows for continuity of care6 with the same provider who can follow up more frequently and reinforce adherence to treatment.
Telemedicine can be efficient and effective for clinicians and patients alike.7 Coupled with additional health resources like coaching, medication management, and specialty care, patients are experiencing better health in traditionally underserved areas.3
Some clinicians may not feel they have enough time to discuss preventive and chronic care strategies with patients during standard in-person visits. Referring patients to health coaches may improve the management of chronic illness through behavior and lifestyle change.8 As Dr. Kharbat explains, “Health coaches cut down on the provider’s time and provide support that the patients need to move them forward in their health journey.”
LivingMatrix is a cloud-based patient information management application that acts as a virtual hub for Functional Medicine tools like the timeline and the matrix. The software automates the intake of patient information and organizes it, so clinicians have more time to spend with patients during consultation.
LivingMatrix provides an interactive experience specific to the practice of Functional Medicine that benefits both clinician and patient alike. “It provides the timeline with a wonderful visual component,” says Dr. Kharbat. “Showing patients the timeline, where the arrows go up, and here’s all the symptoms—it’s priceless. They have that ‘a-ha’ moment, and they really appreciate that.”
Patient data software like LivingMatrix can create more efficiency during the patient visit and gives patients a new way to experience their health care. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, visual communication is an important element of patient engagement. Leveraging technology in the clinical setting keeps patients connected to—and accountable for—their health goals.
- Powell RE, Henstenburg JM, Cooper G, Hollander JE, Rising KL. Patient perceptions of telehealth primary care video visits. Ann Fam Med. 2017;15(3):225-229. doi:1370/afm.2095.
- Caffery LJ, Farjian M, Smith AC. Telehealth interventions for reducing waiting lists and waiting times for specialist outpatient services: a scoping review. J Telemed Telecare. 2016;22(8):504-512. doi:1177/1357633X16670495.
- Leath BA, Dunn LW, Alsobrook A, Darden ML. Enhancing rural population health care access and outcomes through the Telehealth EcoSystem™ model. Online J Public Health Inform. 2018;10(2):e218. doi:5210/ojphi.v10i2.9311.
- Speyer R, Denman D, Wilkes-Gillan S, et al. Effects of telehealth by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Rehabil Med. 2018;50:225-235 doi:2340/16501977-2297.
- Bashshur RL, Howell JD, Krupinski EA, Harms KM, Bashshur N, Doarn CR. The empirical foundations of telemedicine interventions in primary care. Telemed J E Health. 2016;22(5):342-375. doi:1089/tmj.2016.0045.
- Di Cerbo A, Morales-Medina JC, Palmieri B, Iannitti T. Narrative review of telemedicine consultation in medical practice. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2015;9:65-75. doi:2147/PPA.S61617.
- Neufeld J, Case R. Walk-in telemental health clinics improve access and efficiency: a 2-year follow-up analysis. Telemed J E Health. 2013;19(12):938-941. doi:1089/tmj.2013.0076.
- Kivelä K, Elo S, Kyngäs H, Kääriäinen M. The effects of health coaching on adult patients with chronic diseases: a systematic review. Patient Educ Couns. 2014;97(2):147-157. doi:1016/j.pec.2014.07.026.