Using tele-med technology becoming more popular with seniors

Dr. Ahunna Okwubunka-Anyim connects with a patient via computer.

Using tele-med technology becoming more popular with seniors
April 09
00:00 2020

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

With the stay-at-home order and the increasing spread of COVID-19, many healthcare professionals are encouraging their patients to connect with them via tele-med technology. Most insurance plans, including Medicare, are now covering the cost of visits with a healthcare provider via telephone or computer as a way to provide patient care.

The Chronicle recently spoke via phone with Dr. Ahunna Okwubunka-Anyim, a board certified family medicine practitioner with Iora Primary Care. Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim said that they have seen an increase in the use of tele-med services as more patients become familiar with the technology.

In a recent email from Jay LaMotte, marketing and communications manager at Iora Primary Care, LaMotte noted that although “virtual visits may change how you meet with your doctor, there is so much your provider can do to help you by phone or even video. Whether to help advise on care practices and health regimens, help you maintain yours or your loved one’s health as a caregiver, or just answer any questions or concerns you may have. The goal is to provide patients the best possible care, while keeping patients safe and minimizing their risk of exposure to the (COVID-19) virus through virtual visits by phone, or in some cases, video appointments, rather than in person.

“Virtual care means you will have access to your doctor via phone, video, and/or text message. You have the ability to chat with a provider when it’s convenient for you. Instead of going to urgent care or the emergency room, you can get high quality healthcare from the comfort of your own home. Not only will you get the help you need, but you will avoid a busy waiting room and minimize your exposure to potentially harmful germs.” 

Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim has been surprised by the reception patients have had with tele-med. She said, “Even those who were skeptical at first find that they like the ease with which they can speak with their care provider without leaving home.” Iora’s care coordinators walk patients through the initial process of accessing tele-med services so they can easily connect with their doctor when a need arises.

The Chronicle asked Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim how her patients were dealing with the stress of adhering to the stay-at-home order. She noted that the coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to experience anxiety and it is increasing seniors’ social isolation, which can exacerbate other health issues, including depression. Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim encourages people who are feeling anxious or depressed to call and discuss their anxiety with their health care provider. She also recommended that people take a break from watching news and find things to do that help them relax, such as taking a walk outside, meditating or taking deep breaths, calling friends or family, or other activities that they find enjoyable. She especially encouraged people to eat well-balanced meals and to avoid alcohol. During these uncertain times, it is even more important for people to take good care of themselves.

According to the World Health Organization, most people who become infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate symptoms; however, people over the age of 65 or who have chronic health issues are at a higher risk of getting the disease. Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim said the recommended treatment is to remain isolated at home and treat fever and body aches with a pain reliever such as acetaminophen, and cough syrup or medication as needed for cough. Rest is essential, as well as drinking plenty of fluids. She stressed that it is important that you call your primary care provider if you suspect you may have the virus. Calling in advance will allow your provider to ensure you get the right care without risking the health of other patients or health care providers. Unless it is a life-threatening emergency, it is important to not just walk into an urgent care facility, an emergency room, or your provider’s office, in order to minimize exposure to yourself. In the case you do experience trouble breathing or are in need of emergency assistance, call 911 and notify the dispatcher that you may have COVID-19. 

Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim has a passion for empowering and improving the health of patients through building relationships with open, honest and transparent communication. Prior to joining Iora, Dr. Okwubunka-Anyim worked as a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs VA Health Care Center Kernersville. 

Contact your healthcare provider for information on the tele-med services they offer. For more information or to schedule a virtual appointment at Iora Primary care, call 336-355-4635 or visit:

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