The pandemic has had worldwide ramifications causing changes in the way healthcare is provided, and in some cases, elevating access, specifically through telemedicine.
Dr. Terry Dunn, owner of Foothills Urogynecology, is taking advantage of telemedicine technology to treat the patients in her long-time practice, which serves women across the Denver-metro area.
“I’m excited to be able to bring this technology and tools to provide healthcare to my patients,” Dr. Dunn said. “We can’t do everything remotely, but for simple health concerns, we can assess and determine if further action is needed.”
Foothills Urogynecology has these tips for patients as they explore this new opportunity to receive healthcare. Telemedicine appointments are virtual so that you can stay in your home while still getting the answers you need. Some individuals may be wondering how easy telemedicine is to use and what they can do to make their experience efficient and effective. Some tips include:
- Prepare in advance a list of concerns and items to discuss with your physician
- Take pictures of visible symptoms before the virtual visit
- Track your symptoms and progression
- Call from a quiet place that has good lighting
- Active listening is important to make sure you understand your doctor’s recommendations
- Invite your caregiver to be present, if necessary
“We have our office staff contact patients in advance to ensure their systems are set up and ready for their telemedicine visit,” said Dr. Dunn. “This is an important way to keep up with healthcare when in-person office visits aren’t an option, whether that’s because of COVID-19 or life in general.”
There are just some healthcare issues that require in-person appointments and diagnosis. While this doesn’t alleviate the need for every treatment need, telemedicine can offer physicians a way to provide care remotely and free office time for in-person needs. Some real benefits to telemedicine include:
- Engaging with your physician in the comfort of your home
- Time saving by reducing travel time to/from the doctor’s office
- Greater convenience for caregivers, who have less schedule disruption
- The full visit is provided by the physician, who knows the patient best
“I’ve had some really wonderful interactions with my patients that I’ve never experienced before. They show me their pets, photos and knick knacks that add to my knowledge and understanding of the patient,” she said. “Insurance has not traditionally covered telemedicine. I hope, as physicians, we are now able to show insurance providers that this can be a viable way to provide care, prevent unnecessary clinical visits and improve the overall health of our patients. This is something they need to continue covering once the pandemic health crisis is over.”
In addition to her Denver practice, Dr. Dunn also makes an annual pilgrimage to Africa to provide urogynecology care to women and families in Kenya. She was recently recognized as the featured volunteer with the Tiba Foundation, which coordinates the annual visits to Okwala, Kenya and the Matibabu Hospital, which honored Dr. Dunn in 2019 by naming one of the surgical rooms after her. She has made trips to Africa as part of the Tiba Foundation’s program since 2006.
“We are honoring her because of her loyalty to Tiba and her commitment to education and sustainability. She frequently brings medical students and residents with her and trains them as well as the Kenyan staff. Her lessons allow staff to do more procedures and help more patients even when she is not there,” said Tiba founder, Dr. Gail Wagner.
Annual trips are taken by Dr. Dunn and her team for approximately two weeks every fall. Her trips consist of surgeries, wellness checks and health education to women. Dr. Dunn got involved with TIBA in 2006 and has helped hundreds of women by repairing bladders, pelvic floor disorders, removal of tumors, treating incontinence, and providing education on nutrition, menstrual issues and menopause among other healthcare concerns.
“Healthcare in Kenya is not as accessible as it is here in America but that doesn’t mean they need it any less than we do. It’s a privilege to be able to go and help those who need quality care and I’m extremely honored that TIBA has made me their first featured volunteer,” said Dr. Dunn.
Since their founding in 2004, Tiba and Matibabu Foundations have significantly improved the quality of life for surrounding residents by helping to reduce the HIV/AIDS rate from 40% to less than 20%. In addition, they developed a full-service community hospital that serves more than 250,000 individuals; a College of Health Sciences, whose nursing program is ranked in the top five in Kenya; a secondary school for girls (many of the girls were left orphaned by AIDS); and community health programs. Tiba Foundation provides strategic funding and planning expertise, researchers and more than 40 expert volunteers, like Dr. Dunn, who teach, train and serve in Kenya.
Tiba relies on volunteers and donations to support its programs. For more information about women’s health, contact Dr. Dunn at www.urogyns.com or 303-282-0006.