Lancaster Physician Spring 2020 - 32

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Perspectives

practicing medicine."
LG Health is currently rolling out Penn Medicine OnDemand, a 24/7, 365-day-a-year
service that enables patients to schedule a visit
and consult with a provider via smartphone,
tablet, or computer. The service has been in
development for more than two years, Torres
said, and has been tested out on employees,
with favorable response.
"It's an on-demand service that patients can
do from anywhere they have an internet connection," he explained.
Torres is a fan of telemedicine for his own use,
as it enables him to consult with specialists
who can advise him on a patient's condition.
"For instance, if I have a patient who has a
rash, I can take a photo of it and then do an
e-consult with a dermatologist," he said. "It's
a great triage tool."
In addition to telemedicine, Torres, who
practices at LG Health Physicians Family
Medicine in Lebanon, is excited about the use
of text messaging to communicate and stay in
touch with patients. Done properly, he noted,
texting can comply with privacy regulations and
enables medical professionals and patients to
communicate quickly-something that patients
are starting to expect.
Also, he said, having patients be able to schedule
their appointments online is helpful to both
the patient and those in a busy doctor's office.
Technology is especially helpful when it can
free up employees and professionals to do
other work.
LG Health employs artificial intelligence
in a number of ways, and that shows great
promise for the future, according to Torres.
He cited a self-service tool that helps patients
determine the appropriate venue of care for
their symptoms. Patients enter their symptoms
into the web-based tool. Then, they are advised
on the best location to seek care, such as the
emergency department or their primary care
provider's office.
LG Health also currently offers "e-visits," wherein patients complete custom

questionnaires about their symptoms. A
provider then reviews the information and
provides a diagnosis and treatment remotely.
A technology being considered takes this a step
further by allowing patients to interact with
artificial intelligence to gather a history, after
which a provider can review the information
and complete the encounter.
Technology in its many forms, however, has
its limitations and will not replace one-on-one
doctor patient care, Torres predicted.
"I think we all want to deal with people,
especially in the event of a serious illness," he
said. "The old-fashioned way of doing things
is still important."
Addressing a nationwide shortage of primary
care physicians, Torres said the role of advanced
practice clinicians such as physician assistants
and nurse practitioners will continue to increase.
"I think there's a growing respect for those
positions, and there are a lot of models for how
these professionals will fit into health care in
the future," he said.
The next decades will be groundbreaking as the
roles of physicians change due to technological
advances, changing patient expectations, and
other factors, reflected Torres.
"It's an interesting time to be practicing medicine," he said.
 Eye Associates of Lancaster	
As consumers move increasingly toward online
purchasing and contacts and glasses can easily
be obtained from internet providers, Eye Associates of Lancaster is taking measures to keep
customers buying from its brick-and-mortar
locations.
According to Daniel Hood, administrator,
online companies have impacted Eye Associates' business only marginally. He is confident
that most patients will continue to purchase
eyeglasses and contacts from the company.
Eye Associates matches pricing for contact lenses
that could be purchased through the internet,
which has helped to maintain business. However, Hood believes that most patients choose to

LANCASTER

32

PHYSICIAN

buy corrective eyewear from the group because
of quality and customer service.
"We service and fix everything that we sell,
and if something is not right, we will fix it to
make sure the customer is happy," Hood said.
While telemedicine is important, Eye Associates
does not rely on it as heavily as some other
health care systems. Patients who need to be
quickly screened can avail a doctor's expertise
through the use of telemedicine. However,
anyone with a more complex issue or who
requires the care of a specialist will benefit
from an in-person office visit, explained Hood.
He believes that telemedicine would become
more widely used within the practice if a national health care model would be moved forward
and wait times to see a doctor would increase.
Non-physician providers such as nurse
practitioners and physician assistants play an
important role in health care, said Hood, and
are critical in assuring that patients are seen.
However, board-certified physicians who have
attained the maximum training in eye care will
always be in demand for patients who have
complex issues.
Hood worries that rapidly increasing costs of
college and medical school may discourage
potential doctors from entering the field.
He said those costs, coupled with decreasing
reimbursement rates, are making the prospect
of becoming a doctor less appealing.
"It appears to be a perfect storm for a shortage
in the future," Hood said.
The increasing trend of patients accessing
medical information from the internet has
resulted in some changes in how patients and
doctors interact, according to Hood.
And, while he feels that a well-informed patient
is a positive trend, obtaining information from
unreliable sources is not helpful.
"The quality of the information is key," Hood
said.



Lancaster Physician Spring 2020

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