Jason Vu, MD, is a board-certified pulmonologist practicing at Temecula Valley Hospital in California. We asked him to share his insights on telemedicine, virtual consults, and the future of healthcare.
I became a nephrologist because I find the work rewarding and I love the kidneys! The pathology is so interesting and the kidneys interact with so many other organs that you find yourself learning something new every day and becoming a better internist just by practicing nephrology. I remember doing my nephrology rotation as a medical student, and again as a resident, and loved every minute of inpatient nephrology. It was exciting and had aspects of critical care, immunology, physiology, and pharmacology so I gravitated to it early on.
I joined Sitka because I saw the value in it early on. As a practicing physician in the community, I know firsthand the impact of delays when seeking quality care. The value added when able to answer a consult question immediately can have a profound impact on patient outcomes. Sometimes, patients wait weeks or even months to see a specialist, and this delay in care can often lead to detrimental outcomes. With telemedicine, I can answer a question within 24 hours and provide some guidance regarding the urgency of the issue, basic initial diagnostics, and treatment options early on in the clinical course.
Telemedicine is a great adjunct to the traditional model of delivering health care. I use it in my clinic on a day-to-day basis and I believe it allows patients more options to seek care that works for their individual schedule and needs. Given the challenges that the pandemic brought, this was a natural evolution in our current digital world. I remember a case of a young man who was referred to me in my outpatient renal clinic last year. He was healthy without any underlying medical issues and had recently developed some nonspecific symptoms and was found to have new onset renal dysfunction in his labs. It took about two weeks for him to get an appointment with me, and by the time the appointment date came, he had already been hospitalized and was on dialysis. This highlights an instance where telemedicine and an asynchronous consult request can be placed and the clinical urgency can be determined within 24 hours to potentially prevent further adverse outcomes.
Healthcare providers sometimes resist change and innovation because it can create a sense of uncertainty or competition. This hesitancy is expected and once telemedicine is more embedded in community practices, then I expect the sentiment to change even more. Telemedicine is likely more prevalent in urban areas because of the population density and technological aspects. We need to be able to expand the networks into rural populations to provide access to independent networks.
I love reading and learning, so I’m always trying to stay up to date with the literature. The American Society of Nephrology is a great resource that I rely on. I love the lectures, articles, and question sets on the website and recommend them to any future fellows or residents. I’m also a big fan of The Curbsiders podcast for general medicine knowledge.
I’m excited for all the exciting and innovative therapeutics coming along in medicine, like gene editing, directed cancer immunotherapy, and precision medicine. We are only getting started!
Interested in joining our team of virtual care specialists? Learn more about Sitka Medical Associates