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Telemedicine and Health while Social Distancing

Telemedicine and Health while Social Distancing

17 April 2020

Interview with Dr. Josh Emdur

D.O. Medical Director. Colorado Innovation Response Team. Chief Medical Officer. SteadyMD. Marathoner. 

For someone who may be reluctant to visit a medical care facility right now, what are some options or what advice could you give them?

First off don’t ignore your health during the global pandemic. If you are sick or are caring for someone who is sick don’t ignore the symptoms. If you have a relationship with a primary care doctor they should be your go to. If you don’t have a doctor or their office is closed telemedicine is a great option to get information, help with diagnosis, and provide medications and other treatments as indicated. 
Remember that day to day medical problems still happen in addition to illness from COVID-19. If you are having signs of a potentially life threatening condition you should still be seen in person at an appropriate care setting such as an urgent care or emergency room. 

How do patients use telemedicine?

Most telemedicine companies offer quick convenient visits where patients are paired with random doctors. The visits usually last about 10 Minutes and are done via phone or preferably video call. This system works well for mild illnesses like a cough and cold, but doesn’t leverage the trusted doctor patient relationship. 
My online practice at SteadyMD is different in that I am paired with fellow runners who are directly connected to me via a chat app. The first visit with me lasts an hour which is the kickoff to a minimum of a 1 year relationship. I use technology to improve on the trusted doctor patient relationship. 
SteadyMD is billed annually outside of insurance which allows me to have enough time to get to know my patients and help them achieve their health goals as well as treat acute problems as they come up.

When and why did you pursue telemedicine? 

My friends and family have been reaching out to me via text, phone, and email ever since I graduated medical school in 2004. I realized that many of the questions I have been asked throughout the years were easily managed without an office visit. When I learned about SteadyMD it just made sense to me. I was excited to have the tools to be able to document care and share my medical expertise without needing to bring patients into the office.

Since gyms have shut down across the country, many people have turned to running as a form of exercise during this time. What tips can you provide for people who are just beginning a running habit?

Pick a time goal, go slow, and enjoy the process. I have found that uncertainty is best managed by staying present and focusing on what is under your feet at the moment. Don’t get bogged down on hitting mike goals. Just start at 15 minutes and hope that after you recover your next run will be easier. 
People may be running a lot more than normal, given the limitations on other forms of exercise right now.

What advice can you give to help people avoid overdoing it and causing themselves injury?

While running outside is still allowed under the Colorado “stay at home” order, I have taken the governor’s mandate as an excuse to do core exercises, calisthenics, spinning, and meditation. 

For people looking to maximize their running to aid with optimizing their fitness, what style of running do you recommend? For example, sprints vs. intervals of sprinting and jogging vs. endurance?

The  best way to maximize fitness is training volume. With that being said, easy workouts should compose 80% of your training plan while the other 20% should be really hard. The problem with the 80/20 approach is that takes a long time (years) to build a large aerobic base. Most people don’t have the patience for going slow and building, but there really aren’t any shortcuts. Getting in shape takes work. Interval workouts can maximize your workout if you are crunched for time, but recognize that a combination of easy and hard is very important.

What makes you personally so passionate about running? Can you provide some background on your relationship to running and how (if at all) it's changed during recent quarantine times?

Life is full of uncertainty, challenges, and joy. With that, the marathon is the perfect analogy for life. You pick a goal, put in the work, and then hope for the best on being able to pull it off. 
I find comfort in looking at quarantine in the same lens as running a marathon. Both our daunting to think about as a whole, but once broken down into pieces you learn that with the right mindset you can complete both with grace. 
What advice do you have for people who are recovering from injuries and want to get back into running, especially during this time?
Don’t rush the process. Let your body heal. Use your time off to explore new hobbies and interests. Most of all, partner with a trusted medical professional to help guide the process. 

Dr. Josh Emdur