‘Telehealth’ sees rise as virus spreads

Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 8:45 AM CDT
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OTTUMWA, IA (KYOU) - Since the spread of the coronavirus, many medical providers have shifted their focus to care via telecommunications, or ‘telehealth’.

And now more than ever, if you aren’t feeling right, you might not be able to physically get in contact with your doctor, but you can get in contact virtually.

“Telehealth is all about taking care of patients independent of geography. So, it’s this notion of healthcare without an address, or hospitals without walls. I think a lot of us immediately think of video chats between a doctor and a patient. But really, it’s a lot more than that,” said Dr. Colin Banas.

In the simpliest terms, telehealth is the easiest way possible to enable communication and care between a patient and provider. This is something that has been around for the last decade, but was held back by some barriers.

“There are a lot of concerns about security and reimbursement. So it wasn’t until this particular crisis, that adoption sort of took off and the barriers were being removed. People needed to be able to see their providers and there really wasn’t a lot of choices to do it safely,” said Banas.

The most common forms of telehealth include a phone call, or some type of a video chat, but it goes well beyond just a typical conversation.

“Other use cases would be remote monitoring. The ability for the ICU doctor halfway across the state to be able to keep tabs on patients in an ICU. Home monitoring so patient blood sugar’s or blood pressure’s check through smart devices being uploaded in a secure way so that doctors can keep tabs on all of that medical data,” Banas explained.

But how do you know if telehealth is for you? First, call your doctor. Although most providers do offer telehealth, it’s not for everybody. And during a pandemic, it’s especially important to follow protocol.

“Whether it’s ‘Do I need to be screened?” Do I stay at home? Do I need further medical attention?’ It’s for everybody who is caught up in the crisis, and that’s all of us,” Banas finished.

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