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Patients recovering from a stroke and orthopedic surgery, as well as children experiencing speech difficulties, are among the growing number of patients now using video visits with Mayo Clinic Health System providers, therapists and other care team members. Video visits allow staff to care for patients at home.
Heidi Skophammer, a speech pathologist in Mankato, Minnesota, has been able to use video visits to work with adult neurology patients recovering from a stroke and experiencing speech difficulties, as well as children struggling with articulation, language development and social skills.
Stephanie Stencel, an occupational therapist in Mankato, also uses video visits to help postsurgical orthopedic patients with upper extremity conditions, including those who have undergone repair of various fractures, fracture dislocations, tendon lacerations and shoulder arthroplasty.
"For these patients in particular, it is important they get proper follow-up care to prevent complications," says Stephanie.
Benefits to video visits
Video visits allow for continuity of care for the patient and reassurance for the provider that the patient is getting the care they need.
"Many of my patients go through a progression of advancing exercises following their particular surgery," explains Stephanie. "The benefit of a video visit is being able to talk them through this progression in a timely manner. Without the follow-up video visits, patients would be overloaded with large amounts of information, and organizing and implementing this information may be overwhelming without guidance and oversight."
Families and caregivers have always been welcome to participate when patients are in the clinic. However, video visits have allowed them to be involved in a different way.
"Families and other caregivers are now providing the hands-on cues that would have otherwise been provided by the therapist," says Heidi. "It truly becomes a team approach, which is so important in the patient's overall rehabilitation process."
Patients and staff learning together
Video visits are new for many providers and patients, and sometimes they are learning together as they work through the process.
"Both providers and patients are probably sharing similar feelings of uncertainty about the process, " Stephanie adds. "But, I’m happy to report that all of my video visits have been positive experiences on both ends.
"Talking a patient through the moves or positions during an exercise versus having a hands-on approach has been interesting and sometimes comical for both of us. It has challenged me to think creatively and outside of the box."
"There have been many adjustments in therapy as activities have been changed to accommodate technology and patients in their home setting," says Heidi. "We’re using this as an opportunity to grow in new areas, and I look forward to using these skills in years to come."
Support and feedback is positive
"The simplicity of connecting with patients through video has been an added bonus," adds Stephanie. "We have a great support team to help ensure connectivity and troubleshoot any issues, if necessary.
"Since we’ve implemented video appointments, I've only received positive feedback from my patients. Patients have the desire to participate in therapy to reach their goals, but want to limit their exposure, too. They are appreciative of the therapy guidance, oversight, reassurance and encouragement during their healing and recovery process, and see the videos as an asset rather than an inconvenience."