Remember that virtual clinicians are the first point of contact with telemedicine for many patients- you may be the first person they talk to after downloading an app, and they may have fears and/or questions about what you have to offer.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is the dramatic growth of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But how can healthcare providers best care for their patients when they are not physically in front of them? What do healthcare providers wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office? How can Telehealth approximate and even improve upon the healthcare that traditional medical visits can provide?
In this interview series, called “Telehealth Best Practices; How To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You” we are talking to successful Doctors, Dentists, Psychotherapists, Counselors, and other medical and wellness professionals who share lessons and stories from their experience about the best practices in Telehealth. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingVictoria Merauti Adams.
Victoria Merauti Adams, DNP, MSN, FNP-C is a Family Nurse Practitioner and the Clinical Lead for the New York General Medicine team at Babylon. With nearly two decades of experience in healthcare, Victoria has recently obtained her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at the top of her class at the University of North Florida, where she examined telehealth modalities of managing chronic illness. She is driven to be at the forefront of the future of healthcare and has initiated policies at her workplace to improve telehealth for her patients. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys hiking, nature photography and traveling with her husband.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Victoria Adams: Ever since I was a child I had an interest in how the human body works and ways to ‘fix’ it. I frequently found myself spending hours in medical encyclopedias and watching medical shows- I was fascinated. My first job in healthcare was during high school when I worked as a pharmacy technician. From there, I graduated nursing school and worked as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Rooms in New York while studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. I have been working as a Nurse Practitioner since 2013, and in 2018 I decided to venture into the field of telehealth. After experiencing different environments within the realm of telehealth, I have found my stride here at Babylon.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In my career, I have encountered so many special people and cases that were exciting and cutting-edge. Reflecting on my career, however, I must say that the most interesting thing that has happened to me in my career was to begin my journey in telehealth. Every day is an interesting experience, introducing a new person to the telehealth experience and helping them from thousands of miles away. I recently had a patient who was older and new to telehealth, and she tested for COVID-19 with some symptoms that were bothersome. I was able to consult her, treat her, and follow her until she was feeling better, and her relief and gratefulness ignited something in me that I cannot describe; I was so happy to be there for her and help her during a scary time. I love lifting that veil and showing patients the wonderful world of combining the latest technology with an ancient profession. It is almost an artful masterpiece.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Be brave and persevere! You never know what you are capable of unless you give yourself the opportunity to be your best. I was fearful of entering the field of telehealth; It was new and relatively uncharted territory at the time and I was unsure if I had what it takes to make that transition. Even after I started working in telehealth, I had many days where I felt like I perhaps did not belong, but I persevered. I am so very glad I did because Babylon has taken me in and I feel like I am where I needed to be all along.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have so many loved ones who have helped shape who I am today. My parents and brother have always been supportive of my career choice, and my mother has always been my greatest supporter. Even in my worst times, her faith in me to achieve my goals has never wavered. My husband has also been here for me for day-to-day support and encouragement. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful support system.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how doctors treat their patients. Many doctors have started treating their patients remotely. Telehealth can of course be very different than working with a patient that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity because it allows more people access to medical professionals, but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a patient in front of you?
Prior to the pandemic, most patients were more comfortable with in-person appointments because it’s all they knew. The hesitancy around making the leap to telehealth can be a barrier to maximizing the potential of a virtual visit. As a provider, there are cases where a hands-on approach is appropriate, but I feel that telehealth has been somewhat underestimated until recently.
On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a patient is not in the same space as the doctor?
One of the biggest challenges of telehealth is breaking the barrier between patients and providers that stems from the skepticism of telehealth, as well as reassuring patients that they are still speaking with a licensed, experienced healthcare provider that can offer a true medical visit experience.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You ?
- Remember that virtual clinicians are the first point of contact with telemedicine for many patients- you may be the first person they talk to after downloading an app, and they may have fears and/or questions about what you have to offer.
- Listen & open the dialogue to allow patients to discuss their health issues in a welcoming space
- Try to forget that you’re sitting in front of a screen, and let the conversation flow as you normally would if they were in your office
- Recognize your limitations as a telehealth provider, and ask for help if needed
- Reassure patients that we’re here for them 24/7 and are happy to help
I live by these general pieces of advice for practicing telehealth on a daily basis, and every patient is an example of how I practice these guidelines.
Can you share a few ways that Telehealth can create opportunities or benefits that traditional in-office visits cannot provide? Can you please share a story or give an example?
Telehealth allows clinicians to meet with patients 24/7 for on demand care that works with patients’ lives and schedules. Patients are also usually in the comfort of their home, so are more inclined to be honest and open about what’s really going on with their mental and physical health. There are no waiting rooms, unflattering gowns, people in and out of your exam room- all of which can be stressful, especially when you’re sick! Creating an environment of open communication can help to lift the technology veil. After all, you are a human being as well, probably working from the comfort of your own home too!
Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help facilitate Telehealth. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?
There aren’t any specific tools that have helped bridge the in person-to-telehealth gap, but being improvisational and resourceful can help. For example, I once successfully used an interior car light to assess a patient’s throat over video! High-speed internet also helps.
If you could design the perfect Telehealth feature or system to help your patients, what would it be?
Demand for telehealth visits is very high so clinicians need help determining which patients should speak with a doctor virtually, who needs to schedule an in-person visit, and what can be handled independently without medical intervention. Babylon’s AI-powered Symptom Checker does exactly that. Designed to mimic a clinician’s brain, the Symptom Checker asks a series of questions about the patient’s health and symptoms to triage patients, and help clinicians use their precious time for the patients that need them most.
Are there things that you wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office?
My advice to patients speaking with a virtual provider is to remember that you’re speaking with a licenced professional who is here to help you. Also, telehealth has created a safe space for discussion in an environment of your choosing with the provider of your choice, so take advantage of the ease that comes with being in the comfort of your own home by being as open as you’re comfortable with when speaking with your provider.
The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring people together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you? int
AI is an extremely exciting innovation that Babylon has already deployed to make quality healthcare more accessible to more people. Babylon designed our AI tools to mimic a clinician’s brain and help take the burden off clinicians, particularly when it comes to administrative tasks. This technology frees up provider’s time so they can practice at the maximum potential of their license with the patients that need them most. We’ve also used AI to help keep an updated view of patients’ health risks, which is very important as we think about potential interventions.
Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?
As long as we have educated, human clinicians still interacting with patients — virtually or in person — I don’t see any cause for concern at this time. We do not want to lose the art of communication with our patients- we want to create processes and programs so we can spend more valuable time with our patients when needed. We are constantly perfecting our technology to more closely mimic the thought processes of human providers to further bridge the gap.
Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
At Babylon, I’m already working to accomplish a mission that helps a vast number of people in a really impactful way. Babylon was founded and continues to be guided by the mission of putting accessible and affordable healthcare in the hands of every person on earth. We now serve 20M+ people around the world with our AI-powered, app-based tools.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit babylonhealth.com/us for more information on how Babylon is accomplishing its mission of providing accessible and affordable to every person on earth. Follow the Babylon Blog for more health and wellbeing tips from our providers.
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story and experiences with you!