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Managing Osteoporosis via Telemedicine

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 21, 2021

It’s important to keep up with your osteoporosis treatment so you can avoid fractures and stay mobile and active. But it’s also vital to protect yourself from COVID-19 by limiting your contact with people outside your household. So you might be wondering: Is it a good idea to visit your doctor for osteoporosis care in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic?

For many people, telemedicine offers a way to stay on top of your osteoporosis treatment while cutting down your trips outside your home. In telehealth visits, you meet with a health care provider via your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Often, the visits happen by video, but in some cases, you might be able to talk by phone.

Before you schedule a telemedicine visit, it’s good to know what to expect so you can get the most out of the appointment and keep your osteoporosis treatment on track.

Prepare for the Appointment

Make sure you understand the technology for the visit in advance. You may need to download an app to your phone or tablet, or a program to your computer. Before your appointment, ask your doctor’s office about the telehealth tools they use, and see if you can spend some time getting familiar with the features, including how to control the audio and video.

You’ll probably need to fill out forms ahead of time, updating your medical information. These may be online. Ask your doctor’s office what they’ll need before your visit.

What to Expect From Telemedicine

While a telemedicine visit can’t include everything you might do if you saw your doctor in person for osteoporosis, there are a number of common topics you can cover. You can discuss your treatment, give any updates about your condition, and go over any questions or concerns you have.

Your doctor will need to hear about any changes to your condition. Important things to cover include:

  • Recent falls
  • Broken bones
  • Trouble with your medications, including side effects that bother you
  • Changes to medications you take for other conditions
  • Any new test results

If your appointment is via video, your doctor may be able to take a look at your teeth and any skin rashes you have. It might also be possible to do a balance test while your doctor watches.

COVID and Your Medications

It’s important to keep treating your osteoporosis. You might take your osteoporosis drugs in pill form. But some drugs come as shots or intravenous (IV) treatments in your health care provider’s office.

If you need shots or IV infusions, talk to your doctor about alternatives to in-person visits. Experts have shared ways that people who need these medicines can safely continue treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Denosumab (Prolia): You can safely wait 7 months between shots. If the delay is longer, your doctor can switch you to a pill form of a different type of drug called a bisphosphonate.
  • Romosozumab (Evenity): You also can safely delay treatment 2-3 months, then switch to a bisphosphonate pill if necessary.
  • Teriparatide (Forteo) and abaloparatide (Tymlos): You can delay shots 2-3 months. After that, you can switch to a bisphosphonate pill if necessary.
  • Zoledronic acid (Reclast) and IV ibandronate (Boniva): You should be able to delay treatment several months without problems.

 

Managing Your Drug Supply

Make sure you keep enough of your medicines on hand. Your doctor might be able to prescribe several months’ supply of your medications at once. That will let you visit the pharmacy less often. You can also cut down on trips to the drugstore by ordering and picking up all of your prescriptions in one trip.

See if your pharmacy has delivery, drive-thru, or curbside pickup options, so you can skip a trip inside. You might also want to consider using a mail-order pharmacy.

If you have questions about a medication, try calling your pharmacist to get advice rather than going to the counter.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Does Osteoporosis Run in Your Family?” “COVID-19: Older Adults,” “COVID-19: Doctor Visits and Getting Medicines.”

National Osteoporosis Foundation: “COVID-19 Updates and Resources,” “Medication and Treatment Adherence,” “Bone Health During COVID-19: Important Info for Patients and Caregivers.” 

Osteoporosis International: “Understanding patient experiences and challenges to osteoporosis care delivered virtually by telemedicine: a mixed methods study.”

Mayo Clinic: “Osteoporosis Treatment: Medications Can Help,” “Stay on Track with Medications During a Pandemic.”

Endocrine Society: “Bone Health Experts Issue Osteoporosis Treatment Guidance During COVID-19.”

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: “Joint Guidance on Osteoporosis Management in the Era of COVID-19.”

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