As of March 11, 2020, coronoavirus tests were not widely available in the U.S. However, telehealth companies are providing online help to people concerned they may have coronavirus symptoms.
Several telehealth companies think they can provide valuable triage as coronavirus spreads across the U.S. Major health care systems are also considering ways for doctors to provide telehealth services by teaming up with platforms like American Well, Teladoc, or MDLive.
American Well is offering to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms and make recommendations on what they should do. “We’ve already been providing similar care to date,” said American Well Chief Medical Officer Peter Antall. He said Amwell typically increases the number of doctors on its platform to handle pandemics like the flu. The goal of American Well’s actions is to keep patients who don’t need to be hospitalized away from waiting rooms or emergency departments, where they may infect others or get infected. When patients experience higher risk symptoms, American Well coordinates with hospitals to bring them in.
“The emergency department will give the patient instructions to stay in the car, and a nurse comes to the parking lot so they can be brought in in a way where they don’t expose themselves to others,” Antall said. The idea is to make hospital entry as safe and organized as possible.
Dr. Robert Wyllie, the chief of medical operations at Cleveland Clinic, says telehealth has proved itself as a valuable tool in containing and monitoring disease. “When H1N1 came through, there was a lot of Tamiflu being dispensed, but telehealth was also a major pillar of our treatment of those patients,” he said.
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