As a surgeon, an important part of my responsibility to patients is to be available as needs arise. A critical aspect of this relationship involves postoperative care. Many patients, myself included, feel apprehension about a surgical incision and worry about how best to change bandages, wash the wound, etc. or what to make of any changes that seem unusual or unexpected.
The usual process for a surgeon to address these worries is to have the person come ‘to the office or clinic’ for discussion and examination, often incurring cost and inconvenience. In these circumstances, the use of Help Lightning’s merged reality or ‘virtual presence’ has often been very helpful for me and my patient.
The following is only one of many instances in which virtual presence served me and my patient well. This patient’s family drove him home (2 hours away) in the afternoon following an outpatient surgical procedure. The next evening, he and his wife became concerned about changing the wound dressings and managing the incision. They knew what to do but were understandably fearful. They were willing to drive two hours to me for hands-on guidance. Instead, we connected with virtual presence using Help Lightning on our mobile phones. I was able to see him and his wife and they were able to see me. I used virtual presence to guide both of them through dressing removal, wound inspection and rebandaging. The encounter was personal, interactive, reassuring to both of us and sustained the relationship. It also prevented them from spending hours coming to see me.
While face-to-face visits with healthcare providers are often necessary for proper service, many issues can be resolved by the use of virtual presence, which can provide a very interactive, personal and instructive encounter for issues that do not need the time and expense of traveling ‘to the office’. And given the rapid growth and acceptance of enabling mobile technology, I’ve made Help Lightning an important addition to the service I provide.
Dr. Barton Guthrie, MD
Dr. Barton Guthrie is a neurosurgeon in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his medical degree from University of Alabama School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.