How I Practice Now: Telehealth Tips and 5 Ways to Keep Healthy During the Pandemic
In this video, Cardiology Consultant Advisory Board Member Andrew Freeman, MD, lists 5 things you should do each day to care for yourself so that you can better care for your patients. He also provides helpful tips for successfully implementing telemedicine.
Andrew Freeman, MD, is a cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, where he also serves as the director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness.
Andrew Freeman: Hi, everyone. My name is Andrew Freedman. I’m a cardiologist in Denver, Colorado, at National Jewish Health, and I am part of the Consultant Advisory Board. I'm talking to you a little bit today about telehealth and what's going on in our practices.
Obviously, life is completely different than it ever has been before. We are all in this together in a really crazy time, where our cities are empty and we're all hunkered down at home. [For those of us] doing telehealth, we're actually doing telehealth from the hospital. I have my mask that was made by my wife that I wear when I see patients, and then I also have telehealth visits, which actually have absolutely transformed the way I practice cardiology.
Tips [for telehealth]: It doesn't take much more than a camera and a good microphone or your smartphone, which has a microphone built in. It has absolutely transformed the way I'm able to see patients; you can check on them. And the nice thing is it pays as much as in-person visits currently, so I'd encourage you to really explore this with your hospital administrative and information technology (IT) team. [Telehealth] is a very powerful approach to take care of chronic conditions, which don't really go away even though there's a pandemic, so I’d encourage you to do that.
I think the best tips I could ever give you in this regard are to use the village you have at your own institution—doctors, nurses, medical assistants, the IT people—who most of us usually don't hang out with but now you need to become friendly with—and of course, the administration and billing folks so that way your practice can stay afloat and you can provide this valuable service and increase the access to care for your many patients.
Other than that, I want to encourage people that the same 5 things that I always tell people about to keep people healthy should continue, and that includes eating predominantly plant-based, so lots of fresh produce, which seems to be very plentiful in the stores these days. They help to boost immunity significantly and also fight chronic disease.
Getting regular exercise; 30 minutes a day of physical activity away from other people.
Stressing less, so spending some time each day being mindful. The world seems like it's falling apart right now, but there are some beautiful things still going on, so use those to your advantage to calm yourself and let go of some of those fears and anxieties and just do your best.
And the next part is to really connect with others. Now obviously do this in a safe way. Make sure you decontaminate yourself if you're a health care provider. When I get home, I leave all my shoes outside. I usually take off whatever overcoats or other things I have. I run upstairs to the shower and shower and change. And then I come and greet my family, which is really probably the best practice. But in some places, when you're exposed to very high-risk patients in an emergency room setting, some people are literally physically distancing, so use technologies like this to stay connected—Zoom Skype, FaceTime, whatever it is.
We talked about diet, we talked about exercise, we talked about stress, we talked about connectedness. The most important thing I also want to really encourage that you can do every day is sleep enough. You want to get about 7 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep.
So eat plants, exercise more, stress less, love more, and sleep enough. And if you can do all these things, in all likelihood, we can stay better off and take better care of ourselves as health care providers, which allows us to take better care of the public.
And I would really encourage you to explore telehealth. If you're a cardiologist, or even if you're not, the American College of Cardiology has a COVID-19 hub with a lot of great materials on starting up telehealth, and I would encourage you to explore it. It's at ACC.org. And with that, I wish you all the best. And let me know if I can be of any assistance. Andrew Freeman, signing on from Denver.