Virtual Appointments Make Long Travel Unnecessary
By using telemedicine equipment now available at MidMichigan Health Park-Houghton Lake, patients can stay near home and consult with specialists throughout the region, such as Pulmonologist and Sleep Specialist Elie Obeid, M.D., of Mt. Pleasant.
“It’s a perfect solution to issues of transportation and access,” said Erik Robinette, sleep disorders manager for MidMichigan Health facilities in Clare, Gladwin and Houghton Lake.
Robinette said the doctor and the patient each use a portable telemedicine unit, which includes a monitor and a camera.
“For the patient, it is just like any other office visit,” he said. “They check in, complete forms if necessary and go into an exam room where they have a real-time conversation with the doctor. While Dr. Obeid is not physically in the room with them, they see his face on their monitor, and he sees their face on his monitor.”
An assistant is in the exam room with the patient to report vital signs and act as the doctor’s hands when necessary. After the appointment, patients may be referred to a MidMichigan Health Sleep Lab for further testing.
Robinette said patients are very satisfied with the telemedicine consultation.
“When we ask patients to rate their experience, they say they felt like the physician was in the room with them,” he said. “When we ask if they felt the experience was of equal value to a traditional office visit, they all have said the experience was just as valuable as a face-to-face consultation.”
Robinette added that many insurance companies recognize the value of telemedicine and allow reimbursement for the consultation.
“Using telemedicine has proven to be a seamless process for the patient and the doctor,” he said.
Dr. Obeid, who is with MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot, specializes in pulmonology, critical care medicine and sleep disorders. MidMichigan’s Sleep Labs are specialized medical facilities staffed by professionals experienced in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. The Sleep Labs blend the use of state-of-the-art technology and equipment with a caring atmosphere. If you show any symptoms of a sleep disorder, you should first see your primary care physician, who may refer you to a sleep lab for testing.