How telephone doctor visits have been a boon to needy patients

March 28, 2021

Originally published in the Los Angeles Times – March 28, 2021


To the editor: For many medical conditions, diagnosing by phone is just as effective as doing so during an in-person appointment. (“Telephone visits with doctors work. Don’t roll them back,” Opinion, March 25)

Take, for example, this phone encounter: During a recent medical visit at Venice Family Clinic for a child suffering abdominal pain, our pediatrician went through the same questions and tests to diagnose the cause that she would have at any one of our 14 sites. Using her medical judgment, she diagnosed the issue and recommended methods to resolve it.

For the 27,000 patients we serve, phone visits ensure access to care. Many have limited transportation options and work in jobs with little or no sick leave. As a result, 11% of our patients miss their in-person visits, while only 4% miss their scheduled phone appointments.

For these reasons and more, we support Assembly Bill 32, which would make permanent the telehealth innovations achieved during the pandemic, including Medi-Cal reimbursements for audio telehealth visits.