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What is telehealth?

Telehealth is a tool we use to provide medical care to our patients over the phone or using our secure video platform called Medeo.  Historically this has been used with patients who live out of town to reduce the need for travel.  With the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic we are using telehealth in many new ways to help us continue to provide excellent outpatient gynecologic and obstetrical care in the safest way possible.  Your safety is our priority.

Your physician may recommend your initial or follow-up visits are over telehealth.  This is done for the safety of our patients, our staff and our communities.

How do I access telehealth?

When our office phones you to book your appointment, you will have a choice of two options for your telehealth visit.

1.  Phone appointment:  You will be asked for your preferred phone number.  We recommend choosing an appointment time that will allow you to have a private conversation with your doctor (and support person if you wish to have them present at your telehealth visit).  Your doctor will phone you at the phone number at your appointment time, and will ensure you are comfortable to proceed with a phone visit.

2.  Medeo appointment:  This is a secure video platform used at Willow Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Some equipment is required: a device with a screen, a camera and speaker or headset such as a smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer.  If you elect to use the video platform you will be asked for your email and we will provide you with login instructions prior to your appointment.  Remember to check your junk email folder as often these emails are sent there.  If you are having issues with the platform, your appointment can be converted into a phone appointment and your physician can call you at the number you have provided.

Can I meet my doctor in person?

Face to face medical care is a cornerstone of our practice and in many cases some of your care will be in person.  Each patient is unique and your doctor may recommend an in-person assessment or investigation.  Other times you will meet your doctor in person at the hospital on the day of your surgery.  They will greet you prior to your procedure and answer any questions you may have.

Is telehealth private?

We apply the same standards of confidentiality to telehealth as we do during regular office visits.  Your medical information is private.  We access the phone and video platform from our private offices and no recordings are made.

Just as in our regular clinics, we may have a medical student or resident learner with us.  If this is the case, they will be introduced at the beginning of the appointment and we will ask your consent for them to be present during the encounter.  We also encourage you to be in a private, quiet space during your appointment.  We understand that this can be challenging, for example with kids or other family members present.  We will ask your consent to have our discussion in their presence.  Some patients will attend their appointments from work, and again we encourage using a private space, with headphones if possible.  Another option is to attend from your vehicle on your smartphone with headphones if that provides more privacy.

What are the risks of telehealth?

Although we use a secure platform and our physicians keep your information private, we cannot guarantee security and confidentiality of telehealth and/or electronic communications due to the risk of third party interception or access without the knowledge of physicians and patients.  Some of the examples of this include malware, or owners of wifi services that you use.  Email communication has the potential to be misdirected or copied and read by unintended recipients.  The physicians and office staff at Willow Obstetrics and Gynecology are not responsible for information lost due to technical failures associated with patient’s software or internet.

Some ways you can help keep your medical information private are to use a private computer/device with password protection (eg. not a work device), use home secure internet connection and not public wifi, and use a secure personal and encrypted email account.

What if I need to fill out forms?

We use a secure email system called Health Mail that allows us to email all forms and requisitions directly to your email inbox.  Instructions on how to return the forms to the office will be included in the email.  We simply need you to provide your private email address.

If your doctor prescribes you a medication, this can be faxed directly to your pharmacy.

What are some of the benefits of telehealth?

Telehealth reduces in person contact therefore reducing exposure and the chance of contracting COVID-19.  It reduces the need to travel, whether within Prince George or from out of town.  For patients that have difficulty accessing transportation, telehealth allows patients to access obstetrical and gynecologic outpatient care easily from home.

Telehealth provides more schedule flexibility for patients, and allows us to see more patients while ensuring we are providing excellent care.

What are some of the challenges with telehealth?

Occasionally there are connectivity issues with medeo/internet or cell phone service.

A physical examination will not be done over telehealth, and your doctor will see you in the clinic if this is required.

Some obstetrical and gynecological issues can be investigated and managed over telehealth and therefore a face to face encounter with your doctor may not occur or can occur several months after the initial telehealth visit.

What happens if I miss my telehealth appointment?

If you fail to present for a medeo, then our physician will likely attempt to get hold of you over the phone, as sometimes patients experience Medeo connectivity issues.  If we are unable to get hold of you, we will leave you a message to call the clinic and re-book your appointment.  If you are unable to attend your appointment, please call the office to notify us as soon as possible to help us fill that time with another patient who needs an appointment.