PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Health Authority held a webinar for providers on telehealth Monday afternoon, shortly before Multnomah County held their own briefing via conference call over COVID-19 and chronic illness.
During the webinar, the OHA said they are changing their guidelines on telehealth. This includes telehealth for all conditions, not just COVID-19. They said that coverage should be for new and existing patients, and that caregivers can use Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, Zoom, and Skype. Facebook live and TikTok are forbidden. Restrictions have been removed about where chats can occur – they are now permitted anywhere that supports private interactions.
They then discussed billing and rate questions, compliance with HIPPA, and the types of providers eligible for telehealth.
Multnomah County health officials also held a press conference Monday over Zoom to discuss COVID-19 and those who have an underlying chronic health condition. Multnomah County says it encourages those individuals to continue treatment.
“People with chronic disease have a higher risk of more severe illness from COVID-19 and the percentage of COVID-19 patients locally with at least one underlying health condition was higher among those requiring hospitalization and intensive care,” said Multnomah County Public Health Director Rachael Banks. “The most commonly reported underlying health conditions related to chronic disease are lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
Banks said that of those in Multnomah County who tested positive, 19% have an underlying lung disease. “That’s nearly 4 times higher than the general population.” Another 15% have diabetes and 13% cardiovascular disease — both of which are twic the rate of the general population.
“We can’t talk about chronic disease and Multnomah County without talking about health injustices and in the same way COVID-19 disproportionately hits people harder with underlying health conditions like chronic diseases.”