Integrative Telemedicine: The Future of Healthcare?
Imagine you have a severely painful, complicated medical condition. It’s causing everything in your life to spiral out of control, and your mental health in particular is taking a drastic hit. Sometimes it gets so bad you consider suicide.
There are many factors at play here. The condition itself, the awful symptoms, your body’s reaction to medications, the effect on friends and loved ones, the effect on your livelihood, and all of this leaves your mind in a state of despair. Just a few years ago this would mean an endless barrage of trips to the doctor’s office, to the pharmacy, to the psychiatrist and psychologist’s office - then the back and forth of finding the right specialists and medications.
The rise of telehealth
Sometimes the right doctor isn’t even in the same town. Bumps in the road like this would usually cause difficulty and hopelessness. But that inconvenience is finally coming to an end.
Online treatment, known as “telemedicine” is changing the healthcare landscape. It’s already making a huge difference in ease of treatment and patients’ quality of life - especially when tackling complex problems that require treatment to be administered in concert between several different doctors.
Telemedicine, and specifically telepsychiatry, has been proven in studies to have a positive effect on patients and may even help them open up during therapy while at home in comfortable surroundings. Telemedicine for physical ailments has similar good efficacy. Finally the medical community is seeing the ease of cooperation that some people need. And it’s no longer necessary to ask that patients travel long hours just to receive treatment.
Here’s an example of how integrative telemedicine care can save a life.
“It is the absolute most pain you can experience before actually having a blackout.”
That’s how cluster headache sufferer Jack Borders describes the pain from his ailment. These are a particularly painful form of headache sometimes called the “suicide headache” because it drives so many over the edge before a diagnosis is ever confirmed. This makes it extremely important to treat them as soon as possible. But as there is no cure for cluster headaches, this can be tricky.
Jack’s cluster headaches started when he was 17. As they continued, he was working on a dual degree at Harvard and University of Miami. During this busy time, sleep problems and stress compounded with the headaches and they became a chronic ailment. It wasn’t long before he began thinking of suicide.
After having trouble accessing his usual university doctor, he decided to reach out and try to assemble his own “healthcare team” including Dr. Bregman and other top specialists, as well as “Clusterbusters” which is an institution studying cluster headaches and their treatment. Telemedicine made it possible for him to involve all these moving parts.
It took a number of years, but Borders finally found a group of doctors that worked. Dr. Bregman was a huge part of forging the multi-faceted treatment plan making life liveable again. Even though the cluster headaches haven’t disappeared completely, their mental toll is cushioned by the approach facilitated by Dr. Bregman.
“I know that through my team I’ll be able to recover and really be preventative,” said Borders during an interview on the Breakdown with Dr. B Podcast.
Dr. Bregman and his team of specialists were able to take a very complex picture and make it work not just for Jack, but for his family as well. Through telemedicine appointments everyone was able to be present when needed, and participate in helping Borders through the storm of pain and mental anguish he experienced.
“We had a multidisciplinary approach where I talked to [all his other doctors],” explained Dr. Bregman, “We also dealt with behavioral medicine interfaced with medical. Jack and I, through the years, were able to get meds down that really work for him.”
Now with Borders’ medical data stored virtually, it is easily sent ahead of time to whoever he’s going to see. It facilitates the communication between doctors and speeds up the process exponentially. Additionally, Borders can settle down wherever he wants.
“I can live in the suburbs with my wife and still have all of my expert physicians still be based in the city of Miami,” Borders said.
After Covid popularized and spread the use of virtual doctor’s visits, healthcare is more convenient and accessible than ever. For those with a complicated problem requiring many different specialists, it can be the difference between life and death.
“This is the kind of medical care that I think people would like to see in our country at this point,” said Dr. Bregman.
At Bregman Medical Group, we’ve offered online telepsychiatry for years helping to usher in the new age of healthcare. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment, simply visit www.bregmanmd.com or call 305-740-3340.