When Can a Photo Substitute for a Visit to the Doctor?

Since we’re always trying to make life easier for elderly parents as well as ourselves, my last post was about using a cell phone to photograph concerns about aging parents’ observable healing problems.  See last post and think: suture area after surgery, wounds that need packing or dressings, slow-healing or possibly infected cuts, or lacerations,  rashes, long-lasting bruises…..

I followed up with the doctor’s office that suggests cell phone photos, to further inquire about the value of photos instead of an unplanned office visit. “Photos from an iPhone are very clear,” the efficient receptionist responded (plastic surgery is the specialty in that office). Upon further questioning it turns out she’s the person who thought of using cell phone cameras and this has very worked well and saved everyone time and unnecessary appointments, she says. However, she only can confirm that the iPhone takes very clear pictures. She didn’t speak to the clarity of other cell phones’ photos.

So I began thinking about the cost of an iPhone compared to other cell phones; then wondered how many adult children have iPhones; then wondered about the difference in clarity among cell phones’ cameras.

Clearly tens of millions of iPhones have been sold and don’t we see many teens, tweens, and younger using iPhones? If we don’t have one, is it worth borrowing an iPhone for a few minutes from one of the neighbors’ children or trying with the phone we have when our goal is to help parents age well?

When/if you try this, please tell us the make of your phone and the outcome.

Aging Parents’ Visible Wounds, Cuts, Bruises: Connecting Quickly With Doctors– A Different Use for Cell Phones

Wish I’d Thought Of This!

They say “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Ever think of using your cell phone to snap a picture of an aging parent’s visible problem and emailing it to the doctor?  Is this an efficient approach for a difficult-to-describe visible concern?

I think about how easily older people’s skin bruises.  I think about post-surgical sutures, packing wounds, and wound care. And I think of healing that doesn’t look right. There are often visual related loose ends that raise anxiety. If a clear photo emailed to the doctor shows a problem, the office staff can quickly make an appointment for an office visit. Easy and efficient.

For example: A simple outpatient procedure requiring the wound area to be cleaned with an antibiotic, then covered, generated an instruction sheet ending “Please phone if you have any questions.” Phoning the office and speaking to the receptionist generated new instructions: “Use your cell phone to take a picture of the area and email it to us asap.” A return email from the doctor’s office came within the hour: “Looks normal….” One less concern.

Time is precious for doctors and patients and adult children of aging parents. When we’re younger, we don’t like to waste time. When we’re talking about aging parents, a timely photo can not only save time, but save taking parents to the doctor– a production in and of itself for some elderly people. If a photo can replace an unplanned office visit, so much the better.

Of course seeing something first-hand can make a big difference. All children of aging parents have learned to use their judgment about so many things. Whether or not a photo suffices is just another (among many) judgment call.

When our cell phone’s camera takes clear pictures, we save time and trouble and everyone benefits. We help our parents age well while making it easier on ourselves.

Related: Smart Phones in Senior Healthcare