Health First NOW’s Dr. Michael Shapiro: ‘TeleHealth Harnesses the Power of Technology’

By  //  September 17, 2016

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TELEHEALTH: 'It’s a clinic in The Cloud'

Health First recently launched TeleHealth to provide additional options to patients seeking help from its busy urgent care facilities. Patients get a face-to-face visit with an urgent care physician through their computers, tablets and smartphones. “Sometimes patients may find that it is extremely difficult to get in to see the doctor," explained Dr. Michael Shapiro, medical director for Health First Now Urgent Care.

Health First recently launched TeleHealth to provide additional options to patients seeking help from its busy urgent care facilities. Patients get a face-to-face visit with an urgent care physician through their computers, tablets and smartphones. “Sometimes patients may find that it is extremely difficult to get in to see the doctor,” explained Dr. Michael Shapiro, medical director for Health First Now Urgent Care.

Convenient Way For Patients To See Health Care Professionals Without Visiting An Office

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Technology has transformed what was once a necessity into an option. In the past, pesky colds, minor infections and other small-scale maladies often required a trip to the doctor’s office for resolution.

Today, the office can come to your house.

Enter TeleHealth, Health First’s alternative to a visit to the doctor’s office. With TeleHealth, the doctor comes to you, in a virtual manner.

health-first-telehealthBut rather than taking time off for a doctor’s visit, what if you didn’t have to leave your desk to get medical care? That’s where Health First NOW’s TeleHealth can help.

“It’s a clinic in The Cloud,” said Dr. Michael Shapiro, medical director for Health First Now Urgent Care.

TeleHealth harnesses the power of technology so patients can visit their doctors in their bunny slippers, if they so wish, since there is no need to dress up to visit an office, as patients are “seen” in a virtual environment akin to Skype.

TeleHealth is about convenience. Finding a sitter for the kids, asking for time off from work or wrangling transportation to the doctor’s office can be all in the past with TeleHealth.

IT’S EASY: The patient goes online and registers for a TeleHealth consultation and chooses a time at which he or she shoud be called back. A coordinator verifies the patient’s identity, confirms his or her eligibility, takes payment information and updates medication and allergy information.

Of course, TeleHealth will never replace visits to bricks-and-mortar doctors’ offices, but it provides a viable, efficient and convenient alternative for the treatment of issues such as minor respiratory infections, rashes, pink eye, urinary tract infections and other similar maladies.

Health First recently launched TeleHealth to provide additional options to patients seeking help from its busy urgent care facilities.

“Sometimes patients may find that it is extremely difficult to get in to see the doctor,” explained Shapiro.

“They may be busy at work, busy with kids, have transportation problems, or are traveling out of town. It’s another extension of urgent care.”

See Health Care Professionals Without Visiting An Office With Health First TeleHealthRelated Story:
See Health Care Professionals Without Visiting An Office With Health First TeleHealth

Patients get a face-to-face visit with an urgent care physician through their computers, tablets and smartphones.

The process begins with patients logging on to HFnow.org, where they sign up for a TeleHealth same-day appointment.

Physicians and nurse practitioners are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, although Health First’s goal is to eventually offer TeleHealth appointments around the clock.

Appointments are usually available an hour or so after a patient signs up for service. A patient coordinator calls the patient 15 minutes before the designated time and also sends an email link for the patient to access the physician.

CLICK HERE for more information or to request a Health First TeleHealth consultation.

Prescriptions are sent electronically to the patient’s pharmacy of choice, and diagnostics such as blood and urine tests, if necessary, are scheduled electronically, too. Should additional treatment be needed, the physician will recommend follow-up with the patient’s primary care doctor.

Dr. Michael Shapiro

Dr. Michael Shapiro

With TeleHealth, Health First is leading the way on what is expected to become an important way of delivering medical services.

“It’s a huge trend,” said Shapiro. “In 2013, there were 350,000 telemedicine encounters in the United States. That figure is expected to go up to seven million by 2018.”

Some national telemedicine services such as Teladoc are already fielding thousands of virtual appointments daily.

While some hospital systems contract with major national telemedicine providers, Health First opted to develop its own service in order to provide more seamless patient service.

“We felt we could do a better job because we have access to all of our patients’ records and can do a better job of coordinating follow-up care,” said Shapiro.

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In Brevard County, Health First TeleHealth is now offering a consultation with a Health-First Medical Group provider over the telephone or through video conferencing. CLICK HERE for more information or to request a Health First TeleHealth consultation.

The Beauty of TeleHealth Is Accessibility

“I’ve had a patient call me for consultation on their way to the airport,” said Shapiro.“People can access a doctor wherever they may happen to be.”

TeleHealth is available for a flat fee of $49 for Health First Medical Group patients 18 and older.

“We have all these patients’ records, so we know exactly what medications they are taking and what tests have been performed,” said Shapiro.

When considering that patients may already have a $25 co-pay for a regular doctor’s visit, or high deductibles, and you add in the expense of travel and time lost, the convenience of TeleHealth is worth the modest extra cost.

The service is not yet covered by insurance carriers in Florida, but that may change.

“New York, for example, has mandated coverage for telemedicine,” said Shapiro. “It’s being considered state by state.”
TeleHealth’s video connection with patients significantly aids in diagnosis.

“The cameras are so good these days that we can look at a patient’s throat or eye and see what the problem is,” said Shapiro.
Of course, TeleHealth is not for all issues requiring medical help.

“In those cases, we make an appointment at urgent care or with the ER,” Shapiro said.

Health First NOW also offers appointments for urgent care, emergency care and mammography screening.

CLICK HERE for more information or to request a Health First TeleHealth consultation.

TELEHEALTH-1200-FB-3

You can simply CLICK HERE and make an appointment to be seen via TeleHealth, a convenient way for patients to consult with healthcare professionals via telephone or video conference without visiting an office.

Convenient Way For Patients To See Health Care Professionals Without Visiting An Office


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