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Mayo Clinic offers patients virtual doctor appointments

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Social distancing is making some aspects of everyday life a bit more difficult. That includes doctor appointments for non-emergency and non-coronavirus related concerns.

At Mayo Clinic, like many other health care facilities across the country, most regular appointments are being postponed. However, a growing number of patients are taking advantage of virtual appointments known as telemedicine.

"It's really very similar, in many respects, to the visits I have with my patients when they come to see me in my office," said Dr. Steven Ommen, Center of Connected Care Medical Director at Mayo Clinic.

Video appointments and other remote care options have been around for the past five years, but the need for it is now more pronounced with the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've been slowly converting the practice over the past three weeks to more remote and visual and virtual activities," said Dr. Ommen. "We've also put some of our telemedcine equipment into the hospitals that even allows hospital patients to be taken care of without exposing staff to every potential sick person."

Mayo says this technology allows both patients and doctors to stay home. The patients still receive the same amount of care without the added risk of contact.

"Patients really do like the ease of it," said Dr. Ommen. "They add in the appreciation that they didn't have to come into a waiting room, parking ramp, or those sorts of things where they might have been more exposed to other people who are potentially sick."

We're told patients also appreciate being able to "see" their doctors virtually if their concerns are especially personal.

"If you're having a nuanced conversation with someone, giving them bad news or someone you're still building that patient/physician relationship with, having the video to bolster that communication where you can see their forehead wrinkle when they are confused or see a smile on their face when they make a comment, it really bolsters that communication and those are the sweet spots for using video," said Dr. Ommen.

You can learn more by going to Mayo Clinic's website or by downloading the Mayo Clinic Patient Portal app.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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