Monday, March 30, 2020

Surgeon Uses TeleMedicine for Real-Time Patient Care

By: Dr. Stephen Chagares

Some of the benefits of TeleMedicine conferencing and consulting are that it keeps our social distancing intact while still being able to have a doctor/patient relationship. I can meet patients, we can talk through things, they can have their family there. I can be in my office and show them the computers and posters and show them everything they need, without needing to have a personal interaction and the risk associated with that in this day and age of the Coronavirus.

Some of the examples of TeleMedicine that have been very useful are in the elderly population. Many of them have never used the video function on their phones. And we, as my office helped them learn how to use that function, either bring an app onto the phone or using an indwelling app like FaceTime, and show the patient how easy it is to use it. Many times the first time I click on with the patient, I will implant them onto the video conference. I'll tell them to hit the accept button on the bottom right, and they hit it. And their face, pops back and they're like, "Oh. Oh, there you are." And they are so shocked that it was one click away. That's literally the first thing they always say is, "Oh, this is such a nice way that I can go see my grandchildren or my great grandchildren and not just have it be audio, but be able to physically see them," which really helps a lot in the personal psyche of at all, especially in this era of quarantining everyone.

Yes. I saw a hashtag which was #alonetogether, which really hit exactly what everyone's feeling. Everyone is alone in their homes, but we want everyone to feel that we're all still together. This teleconferencing and TeleMedicine consulting allows patients to not feel isolated. They can see that they can see other people, see their doctors, and keep taking care of themselves, both mentally and medically.

The big picture in the change of everything is that from a surgeon's standpoint, yes, I can follow my post-ops, see their wounds, see pre-op patients, talk about surgery, get everything set up for an operation. And the surgery side of everything right now is really emergencies like appendixes and acute cholecystitis, gallbladder attacks, semi-emergent operations like incarcerated hernias and cancer operations.

From a surgeon perspective, we're still doing some of the surgery, but still doing a lot of the consults. For my fellow medical physicians in other fields, it's equally as important for them. The internal medicine doctors are taking care of all of the COVID patients and all of the patients with flus and all that. But they also have all their maintenance patients, all their hypertension patients, diabetes patients. All of these patients have to make sure they keep having their maintenance healthcare, have to make sure they're keeping up on their blood pressure medicines, their blood sugars. There are blood tests that have to still be drawn.

All these things have to keep still being taken care of, in this era where all the national focus is on COVID-19. So, TeleMedicine consulting for the internal medicine doctors is helping them because they're able to follow their chronic patients, keep them at home, not have them get exposure to the COVID virus, but still have their medical maintenance and still make sure that their diabetes and hypertension, and all of the other medical conditions, are still being tracked. The big issue is that we don't want those controlled chronic medical issues to get out of control, because then that can spiral into an ER visit or even a hospitalization that then becomes much more risky with respect to exposure to the Coronavirus.


Stephen A. Chagares, MD, FACS, is a board certified general, laparoscopic, robotic and breast surgeon in Monmouth County, NJ.   Dr. Chagares obtained specialty training in breast surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In addition to breast surgery, Dr. Chagares regularly performs hernia repairs of all types, including open, laparoscopic and robotic repairs.  He was the first surgeon in his region to perform a robotic hernia repair and remains on the cutting edge of all advanced surgical techniques.  He routinely performs multiple other abdominal procedures, including laparoscopic gallbladder removal.  Dr. Chagares is also a specialist in surgical resection of skin and soft tissue cancers.  He has received numerous awards for excellence and academic teaching, Top Doctors Awards and Patients’ Choice Awards.  His philosophy is to provide quality care with a personal touch. He respects the art of surgery and feels honored to treat patients every day. For more information, visit

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