When it comes to chronic illness, it can be great to have a doctor at your fingertips.
Virtual conferencing has been growing more and more, from offices to hospitals. For people with chronic illnesses like psoriatic arthritis, telemedicine can make managing the disease a little easier. Not every type of appointment can happen virtually, so when is telemedicine the right fit?
There are many benefits to using telemedicine for your healthcare needs. Telemedicine may help protect immunosuppressed patients and slow the spread of viral diseases in waiting rooms. It might also save you money and time (especially when it comes to your commute). Some insurance companies even offer less expensive copays for virtual visits.
When is telemedicine the right fit to manage psoriatic arthritis?
For simple maintenance questions, discussing lab test results, medication and side effects, and any changes in symptoms, a telemedicine appointment can be helpful. This way you won’t have to travel more than an hour for what might turn out to be a 10-minute conversation.
Plus, if you do not have a rheumatologist in your area, you could potentially find a doctor who could consult with you virtually from across the country. This might help connect you with high-quality experts that might normally be out of reach.
Telemedicine could be right for you if you are:
- Stable in your condition
- Continuing psoriatic treatment
- Following up without new symptoms
- Able to provide photo or video evidence of a symptom or range of motion that is less severe, like swollen joints or psoriasis plaques
- Sick with COVID-19 (or other contagious illnesses) but need medical attention for your psoriatic arthritis
- In an area without a psoriatic arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist
- Seeking therapy in connection with your psoriatic arthritis
- Looking for a second opinion or referral
- Having severe joint pain that affects your mobility
When are virtual visits not a good fit?
There are times when your doctor might prefer or recommend an in-person visit. For example, telemedicine might not work if you need a physical exam, lab work, shots, X-rays, or to change physicians.
Schedule an in-person appointment if you:
- Are a new patient
- Are suffering on a body part that is more difficult to examine via camera
- Need blood work, biopsies, medicine dosage changes, biologic infusions, or other cortisone injections
- Experience erratic, intense, or changing flares
- Have a comorbid condition like interstitial lung disease or cardiac issues
“To be honest with you, there's really nothing to be nervous about. It's so convenient. It takes away from the commute of going to a physician’s office,” says Dr. Khattri. “Certainly if you're having active arthritis where it's painful to walk around, it takes away that [barrier], and you can talk to your doctor from the comforts of your own home.”
Saakshi Khattri, MD, is a rheumatologist and assistant professor at the Department of Rheumatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
- Boxer, R. J. (2019). Advantages and utilization of telemedicine. mHealth.
- Arthritis Foundation. (2020). Your doctor will see you now: Where is telemedicine headed?
- Arthritis Foundation. (N.D.). Need to see your doctor? Try telemedicine.
- National Psoriasis Foundation. (2021). COVID-19 Task Force Guidance Statements.