Physicians (MD/DO/MBBS)Physicians as a category are considered the gatekeepers to healthcare. They diagnose, educate, and treat diseases of many kinds depending on their specialty (family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, general surgery, etc.). Many work with each other on one patient’s medical problems, for instance an attempt at medical management is often made first before surgical treatment is considered (due to the extensive staffing, procedural, and rehabilitation costs to the provider teams and the patient).
Credentials include MD (U.S./Canadian Allopathic), DO (Osteopathic), and MBBS (British equivalent). All are equivalent providers in terms of expertise in their respective specialties.
Specialties include Family Medicine (adults, children, and pregnancy), Internal Medicine (adults only, all organs), Pediatrics (children only, all organs), Obstetrics/Gynecology (women’s health/pregnancy), Surgery (multiple domains), Psychiatry (mental health), Radiology (imaging), Neurology (seizures, strokes and other diseases of the brain and spine), Anesthesiologists (pain medicine), Dermatology (skin diseases), Emergency Medicine (acute care), Oncology (cancer care), Pathology (diagnosis, laboratory analysis), and many more subspecialties.
Psychologists and Behavioral Health SpecialistsBehavioral health (or mental health) is a vast and burgeoning area of medical practice. But one that is becoming increasingly more important with an aging, booming population and a rise in urbanization. Many syndromes and disorders which would have otherwise gone unnoticed in the past are now being increasingly recognized and diagnosed, providing those in need with medications or therapies to help them regain normal function. The field of psychology has blossomed to include many providers with varying levels of treatment and diagnostic privileges. Telemedicine is well suited to meet the needs of those with behavioral health concerns who would otherwise be unable to obtain them (as there is a large shortage of providers in some areas of the world). Due to the wide scope of practices among various mental health providers it is advised that you speak candidly with those who you approach for care and establish an agenda for your healthcare needs (e.g. medication based treatments, or talk therapies).
Physicians in this domain are called Psychiatrists (MD/DO/MBBS), and have prescription and hospital admission privileges. Psychologists are often, but not always, doctorate level trained providers (PsyD) trained in cognitive or behavioral (“talk”) therapies and can help you diagnose and manage a number of conditions (depending on state laws they may or may not have prescription privileges). Social workers, due to need, are often filling in gaps for mental health care across the world (credentials vary but often include LCSW, “Licensed Social Worker”).
Nursing and Physician AssistantsNurses and Physician Assistants are the bridges in the healthcare system between physicians and the patient. Their scope of training encompasses whatever the physicians who they work with encompass. For instance a Nurse Practitioner (NP) on a surgery service is well versed in wound and post-surgical care plans that a physician would provide, but they would not be allowed to operate on a patient. Patients should feel confident that NPs and PA’s have several years of post-graduate training in their respective disciplines and are in close communication with physicians at all times. Their prescription authorities may or may not be under a practicing physician (varies by state laws).
Credentials include DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice, “Nurse Practitioner”), and P.A. (Physician Assistant) respectively. They are often called “Mid-Level Providers”.
Optometry is the study and management of vision correction and acute visual diseases. While not every home is equipped with specialized optometric equipment, a qualified optometrist may be able to help you triage and diagnose common acute (emergency) eye diseases and refer you to the care sources you need based on your symptoms. Depending on the diagnosis they may refer you to an ophthalmologist, a physician (MD/DO) who specializes in surgical management of eye diseases. Our foundation is looking into portable technologies at home which users can purchase to obtain more focused telemedical ophthalmologic care.
Credentials include OD (doctor of optometry), and MD/DO (for ophthalmology).
DieticiansDietetics, not to be confused with Dianetics (Scientology), is a field of medicine associated with nutritional management for patients of all ages. Some dieticians specialize in newborn, pediatric, or adult nutritional needs and are able to help patients become educated and design their own meal plans. Many are also great at suggesting supplemental exercise plans and advise patients on caloric expenditures that may aid in treating other medical problems (e.g. diabetes). These healthcare providers are doctorate level practitioners with many years of education under their belts.
Credentials include R.D. (Registered Dietician).
Dentistry, while not as comprehensive as care provided by physicians, is just as critical to health maintenance. Emergency dental care is especially suited for the telemedicine as many dental accidents are not true emergencies and can be easily managed at home. Dentists are also able to provide prescriptions for pain and other ailments.
Credentials include DDS (Doctor of Dental Science). Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons are dentists who complete a physician’s residency in surgical care for complex facial reconstruction, they often have the credentials MD and DDS.
PharmacistsPharmacists, like physicians, are an ancient breed of healthcare practitioners. Some are still called apothecaries in some parts of the world today. These providers are doctorate level practitioners who are well versed in pharmaceuticals and are ideal in helping patients reconcile (review and reduce) their medications, and advise patients on side effects and drug-drug interactions (how the action of one drug can impact the action of another). In some states they may have autonomous prescription writing privileges for basic maladies without the need of a prescription from a physician, NP, or PA (varies by state laws). They can also provide immunizations and may own their own stores.
Credentials include PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy).
Genetics is the study of inheritance. Or how DNA is passed on from parents to children. The field is growing thanks to a boom in biotechnology and available medical data. A geneticist may be able to speak with you and your partner about inheritable diseases and/or syndromes that may run in your family, and discuss options and methods for how to manage and/or prevent passing them on. Like mental health this is another blossoming field rife with new practitioners.
Credentials include CGC (“Certified Genetic Counselor”, a non-physician), and MD/DO (in the fields of pediatrics, or the sub-specialty of medical genetics).
Physical TherapyPhysical Therapists (PT) are well versed in musculoskeletal pathologies and are able to provide rehabilitative care for multiple conditions (including wound care). PT’s are doctorate level practitioners that may or may not have prescribing privileges (varies by state laws). They are ideal for those with chronic musculoskeletal pain or those requiring injury rehabilitation plans.
Credentials include DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy).
Another critical element to any medical practice is a well versed social worker. These individuals obtain masters or doctorate level training in managing outpatient concerns for patients, and in some cases providing mental health care. These individuals are especially adept at enrolling patients in national, state, and local programs that can augment the care you receive (e.g. connecting patients to rehabilitation facilities and helping file disability paperwork).
Credentials include LCSW (“Licensed Social Worker”).
Palliative and Hospice Care
With an aging population comes chronic disease. And end-of-life care has become a sensitive but much welcome topic for many families dealing with incurable disease. Palliative care and hospice care differ in approach but the end goal is the same, comfort. Whether you or a loved one are anticipating needing such care, there are a number of providers available to speak with you regarding your needs and eligibility for treatment.
Credentials are often MD/DO/MBBS (Palliative Care Medicine is the primary subspecialty). NP and PA providers under the supervision of physicians may also be able to provide consultation for your care.
Sometimes we all need a second opinion, especially for critical and life-altering diagnoses such as cancer. Radiologists and Pathologists work hand-in-hand with oncologists and surgeons on all aspects of care. If you have imaging or biopsy data from a previous healthcare provider and you would like a second opinion, you may easily request one from the network in consultation with a radiologist or pathologist by sharing your data.