Seth Martin, MD, MHS, on How I Practice Now: The Future Is Now for Telemedicine
In this video, Cardiology Consultant Advisory Board Member Seth Martin, MD, MHS, shares his experience with the implementation of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and why he thinks that this "taste of convenience" will drive the continued adoption of the technology even after the pandemic.
Seth S. Martin, MD, MHS, is the director of the Advanced Lipid Disorders Program of the Ciccarone Center and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Hi there, colleagues, I’m Seth Martin. I'm a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. And boy, what a crazy time it's been. I was going to focus my brief thoughts around telemedicine, because that's really changed rapidly for me in my practice at Johns Hopkins. And hopefully some of my brief experience that I share here will be useful to my colleagues.
Never have I been so proud to be a doctor, to be a frontline health care worker, to be a cardiologist. This is an incredible time we're living in, and we're all in this together to get through this pandemic. I've been really proud of my institution from a telemedicine initiative standpoint. We went from basically my clinic—before the COVID pandemic was identified—as a clinic just given my interest in health technology and innovation to start rolling out telemedicine visits.
A follow-up patient’s idea was do new patients in person, follow-up visits by telemedicine. I had some scheduled for a couple months down the line for follow-up; and then this pandemic hit, and our telemedicine office really rapidly rolled out this offering throughout our Department of Medicine and through other departments. Our cardiology department went from having zero telemedicine visits, up to now more than 90% of outpatient visits are telemedicine. And we're also using telemedicine on the inpatient services as much as possible. Patients have iPads in their rooms that were already there for educational purposes and so forth, and now [the iPads are] being leveraged to actually try to minimize the time that clinicians are in the room.
But in terms of the outpatient setting, we specifically use Epic Polycom and connect with patients that way, where it shows up as basically a video screen that we're talking. And then I just use Epic the way we regularly would and bill the way that we regularly would, and patients really seem to enjoy it so far. And I think before this, many would probably think there's an age disparity on who would use it or not use it. I can tell you, during my first clinic it was kind of interesting because out of all the patients—even the more elderly patients—my clinic really were set up, used it. It went totally smoothly, and it was only a younger patient in my clinic in their 40s who had some trouble with the video connection, and so we ended up talking by phone and doing the visit by phone.
And that's brings up another point. Interestingly, when scheduling is occurring, [we offer] the patients to do [the visit] either by phone or video, and a lot of patients are kind of opting for just phone-only visits, and it's just simpler and they don't really feel the need to video. But personally, as a clinician, I really love being able to see the patient that video connection; that's just my personal feel on it, but I understand it can be tricky sometimes.
And now with the laws relaxing, some of my colleagues who've had trouble with the Epic Polycom connection, have gone on to other things like Zoom to do the video connection with patients which, again, the laws are allowing right now to proceed.
So we've had a really good experience with telemedicine. I think it's the best at the moment for patients and clinicians if it can be done; and it's really going to be the future. I think now that we have a taste of this convenience and connection, and I think probably clinics are going to be keeping on time better and better. It's not like you're coming in, driving a while to get there, parking, waiting in a waiting room, seeing your clinician. You’re scheduled, you see it, and the convenience of it is going to drive continued adoption even after the COVID pandemic.
I wanted to share my brief experience and encourage colleagues to really embrace this technology. I've been really proud of my own institution division for doing so. [Also, just to] mention that we're also trying to innovate in other areas like the cardiac rehabilitation space where our patients have an interruption as many centers have because of the closure of those typical centers. So we’re moving quickly to a more home-based model, using technology experience that we already have with the telemedicine capabilities to roll out a home-based virtual cardiac rehabilitation program for our patients that we then have to iterate on and make better and better as time goes on. So I'm looking forward, in the future, to sharing more experience from that virtual cardiac rehab program that we're embarking on.
Thank you for listening to me. And, just to come back to the fact that, this came up on us so quickly, and I'm so proud to be in the health care profession: how we respond to this, how we innovated in so many different ways. And I'm still hopeful for the future. And thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts about the way that telemedicine has much more quickly entered into my personal practice seeing patients.