Combating coronavirus: More doctors turning to telehealth in midst of pandemic

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are trying to do more checkups from home.

“We have moved every patient we possibly can to a virtual platform,” Dr. Ned Legare, a telehealth doctor in Massachusetts, said.

Legare is practicing what is known as “telehealth” and doing all of his appointments virtually. That includes regular primary care visits, surgery follow-ups and even potential coronavirus cases.

“I think about a couple who called me last night whose son came back from college, wasn’t in their home for two hours before they realized that the son’s roommate had just turned positive and the family was really in crisis. To be able to give them a call like this and work through all the logistical details (was) really valuable.”

President Donald Trump expanded access to Medicare telehealth services in early March.

As virus cases continue to climb, doctors are using the technology to avoid overwhelming their colleagues in the emergency room.

It’s a format some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing for too.

“This crisis has really brought it home to a lot of people” Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said.

The Democratic Alabama senator said he’s been working on telehealth issues since he got to the Senate in 2018.

He believes telehealth isn’t just for people to do over a computer, it’s over the phone too.

“A lot of our seniors and a lot of folks don’t have internet, lot of ‘em don’t know how to use internet, but they know how to use a telephone,” he said.

Jones said he wants to see healthcare providers reimbursed for all formats and made sure those changes were included in the stimulus package Congress passed and the president just signed.

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