Dr. Geoff Van Thiel: COVID-19 crisis paves way for 'long-lasting changes' in telemedicine


Rockford-based OrthoIllinois was already building up its telemedicine program before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but the crisis "fast-forwarded everything," orthopedic surgeon Geoff Van Thiel, MD, told mystateline.com.

Last week alone, Dr. Van Thiel used telemedicine to diagnose three patients with anterior cruciate ligament tears.

Telemedicine videoconferencing enables physicians to share computer images and animations with patients, among other things that aid treatment recommendations and guidance.

"They can show me whatever's bothering them, and then I'm actually able to take people through MRIs and X-rays and really have a comprehensive visit over a video visit," Dr. Van Thiel said.

The COVID-19 crisis could lead to long-lasting changes for physicians, who are "getting a lot better at it very, very quickly," according to Dr. Van Thiel. When the pandemic subsides, he said, telemedicine could still be used to track patient progress after surgery — especially since patients are also growing more comfortable with the technology.

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