Embracing Telemedicine During COVID-19: Key Takeaways for Headache Specialists

In this video, Stephanie Nahas, MD, MSEd, reviews take-home messages for headache specialists on the use of telemedicine.

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Stephanie J. Nahas, MD, MSEd, is an Associate Professor of Neurology, and Director of the Headache Medicine Fellowship Program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Stephanie Nahas, MD:  I'm Dr Stephanie Nahas. I am a neurologist and a headache specialist working at Thomas Jefferson University at the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If I had to think about some key takeaways for how to manage telemedicine in the era of this pandemic, number one, just embrace it. It's here, and it's not going anywhere. It's essential to be able to continue to provide the care that we need to provide for our patients.

Learn how to use it to its maximum efficiency. Learn how to use it not just as a straight translation of what our office visits used to look like but a new type of a visit. It's virtual. It's not meant to be a total replication of what we can do in real life. You have to view it in a slightly different way and take the approach slightly differently.

In a way, it allows us to focus a little bit more on what's most important. When we really feel ourselves saying, "I need more. I need to be able to see this person in the flesh, and to be able to examine them with my hands, and to be able to treat them with my hands."

I think we appreciate that much more quickly and much more readily when we're doing a video visit, whether it be a new patient or an established patient. Just try to find some enjoyment in it. I know personally, once I got past the stress and the anxiety of having to do this and not really ever having done it before, and not sure if I'm doing it right, because it's kind of like a trial by fire, right?

That's how we learn how to do anything. Just keep doing it and learn from your successes and learn to avoid your mistakes and your missteps. It honestly didn't take very long for me to become comfortable with it. A lot of my colleagues that I talk to, they share that same experience as well.

If you haven't gotten into it yet because you're afraid of all the challenges that it presents, and you're afraid of missing something important, trust yourself. You're capable. You've come this far. You know you can learn a new skill. Lots of us have been learning new skills in the pandemic, whether it's related to medicine or not.

Telemedicine is just a skill that has to be learned. Many of us had learned it before, but I personally had never done it until the pandemic came along. This was a huge incentive to learn how to do it and how to do it right. Again, silver linings, we have to look for them. Otherwise, we'll go completely insane.

That is a tremendous silver lining for us, for our practice, and for our patients to be able to provide care in a new and exciting way.