More hospitals relying on telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:06 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 09:31:31-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Health providers are asking you to call into your doctor’s office instead of coming in-person. Now, hospitals are relying more on telehealth and telemedicine during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Using telehealth services reduces overcrowding hospitals. Instead of walking into a hospital, patients can connect with health care providers digitally through platforms like Teledoc.

This week, President Trump expanded telemedicine for Medicare patients and he gave states the authority to cover telehealth services.

Since the increased spread of the novel coronavirus, some companies have been struggling to keep up with the demand. STAT news reports some telehealth providers are backlogged because there aren't enough physicians to cover all the appointments.

Other places are also rushing to upgrade technology to handle the need.

In the past week, telehealth visits have increased 15-fold, according to STAT news. That just shows how much of a necessity this service has become.


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.