Giving telemedicine the thumbs up

It was a beautiful blue-bird Colorado day, and I was out skiing with my family. As we were making our way off the chairlift, I caught an edge and fell to my right. Putting my hand out to catch myself, my thumb bent back and I felt a shooting pain and burning sensation. Having already torn my Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) on my left hand a few years back, I knew instantly I’d done the same on the right.

It’s amazing how handy your thumbs are, and how debilitating it is when you can’t use one, particularly on your dominant hand. Little things like pulling up your pants, tying shoelaces, carrying a glass or a plate all become monumentally difficult. And when you’ve torn your UCL, you move your thumb or brush it against something, and it’s insanely sensitive, like a lightning bolt of pain shooting through your hand. The only thing that helps is to immobilize it. Since it’s a common injury for skiers and snowboarders, most physical therapy offices in the area have pre-fabricated splints that can be quickly heated and molded to your hand to immobilize your thumb, if you’ve sustained a UCL injury.

But it was Sunday afternoon, and the offices that I knew would have the splints in stock were closed, and I’d need a prescription from a doctor to get one. I really didn’t want to have to wait until the morning and take time out of my work day to go in to see the doctor just for this script when I knew exactly what was wrong.

As an employee of CirrusMD, I decided to text into the doctor on call. After a short description of what happened, I sent a picture of my hand. The doctor on call texted back within a minute. She took a look at the picture I sent and agreed that I had either torn or sprained my UCL, and wrote me a script to have a UCL splint made. She took a picture of the script and sent it back to me through the app. She also suggested I follow up with an orthopedic physician if my pain did not improve within 2 weeks.

The physical therapy office was able to squeeze me in first thing on Monday morning. I had the splint made in 10 minutes and was able to get my day started with little interruption. It’s a perfect example of how our platform can facilitate communication with a physician and have certain injuries diagnosed and treated without having to be seen by a physician in an office and pay a co-pay, when it really isn’t necessary.

Tara Keefer

I lead sales @CirrusMD

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