We are well familiar what telehealth is. It’s a virtual health care platform that allows health professionals to meet their patient via video chat. This seems like an ideal solution for the recent COVID-19 outbreak, right?

Before, telemedicine or commonly known as digital health, was advertised as a convenience available to patients that live in rural areas when travel to see a doctor isn’t reasonable, or to those who are too busy to make the trip every now and then.

The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 makes telehealth a reasonable and much needed solution in minimizing the spread of the disease in American communities.

Many hospital directors and virtual care presidents think that telehealth can play a huge part in flattening he COVID-19 curve, since it helps deploying medical staff and equipment rationally.

How can telemedicine help up during COVID-19 outbreak?

It’s very likely that many will be infected with Coronavirus. Americans over the age of 60, or those with one or more chronic conditions or with severely compromised immune systems are the ones at greater risk. So at this trouble time, it’s important that we make sure that we’re not the carrier and distributer of the virus.

With the use of telehealth for regular and necessary medical care and deferring annual checkups, we will eventually free up medical staff and resources that will be required to helping those that become seriously ill from COVID-19. Furthermore, with the use of telemedicine, we are avoiding crowded waiting rooms and thus minimize the danger of further spreading the disease. And in addition, with the use of Telehealth / Telemedicine, we are not only implementing social distancing (keeping a safe distance between people) but we are also implementing medical distancing, where we distance patients that might be carriers from doctors and medical staff.

Telehealth to help determine who should come to the hospital

Doctors are in agreement that patients that display minor symptoms such as cough or body ache, should stay at home, self-isolate, drink plenty of fluids and treat it as any flu-like illness. Tests for the coronavirus are still scarce and should be used only on certain groups, mainly on those who present as high-risk or that are seriously ill, or on medical staff that might have contracted COVID-19. This is all to help stop the spread of the virus.

Telemedicine uses video chat or simple phone calls and will allow health care providers and medical staff to ask a set of specific questions and gather information to determine if medical care is urgently needed or if the patient can continue self-monitoring and recovering. But it can also be used to regular check-ins during recovery.

How to be most efficient on the call with your clinician?

Health care providers in the US are following specific guidelines that have been provided by the CDC, state and local health department and infectious disease experts. By asking specific questions during the call, the clinician will gather information and determine if the patient is a low, medium, or high risk. Furthermore, they can determine whether the patient has mild, moderate or severe symptoms and whether or not they need urgent medical attention.

The clinician will try to be quick and efficient in gathering information, thus helping you to determine whether or not you need to see a doctor or got to a hospital and receive medical care.

Symptoms – Write down your symptoms before the call.

Additional Questions – Some questions might not seem as important or relevant to you, but trust that they are for the clinician. Since the coronavirus infection has become widespread, it’s likely that you will be asked about your recent travel plans.

Nonmedical Questions – It’s completely understandable that you too will have additional questions you would like to ask. But we strongly recommend that you refrain from asking nonmedical (but relevant) questions. By keeping the conversation short and to the point, you will take up less time and the clinician will have a change to call another person who might be in need. If you’re looking for additional information, try doing searches online or visit CDC’s website.

Available Telehealth Services

Those that have health insurance, should find out if their insurance plan covers any telehealth services. In case that it doesn’t, there are national companies that offer these services for a fixed fee. And if you need recommendation, you should ask your doctor if he could suggest someone.

Alternatively, you can always search online for telemedicine companies in US like United Telehealth Corp (www.unitedtelehealthcorp.com).

Helping each other

These are, without any doubt, challenging times. We must care for each other, help each other while still keeping a safe distance.

If we keep our humanity front and center, ration our resources rationally and wisely, there’s nothing we can’t endure.