From Staff Reports
Beginning next week, ETSU Health is bringing medical care closer to home for its patients by offering telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine is the use of electronic audio and video communication to provide remote health care services to patients, according to a press release issued on March 25.
“ETSU Health has partnered with VisuWell, a telehealth company, to provide patients access to our health care team using a web-based portal,” said Dr. Timothy Canavan, a professor at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and chair of the Department of OB/GYN.
While plans for the telemedicine service at ETSU Health were in place before the COVID-19 outbreak, the timing of its implementation is good for patients because it provides them the opportunity to receive medical care from their ETSU Health providers in the comfort of their own homes.
“First and foremost, it gives patients choice and convenience,” Canavan said. “However, given the present concerns for travel and being in large groups, it allows patients to keep in contact with their provider without increasing their risk for exposure to COVID-19.”
Currently, the telemedicine services are best for patients having simple visits for medication checks; review of blood pressure or blood sugar control; post-operative follow-up that does not require a physical exam; medication or behavioral health counseling; counseling for a simple medical question or issue; discussion of concern for a respiratory illness and what to do (such as with COVID-19); or a sub-specialist consultation.
In the future, more complex exams can be added with the help of additional electronic devices that can be used to perform a simple physical exam, according to the press release.
The new telemedicine service is currently available to all established ETSU Health patients, but administrators hope to expand it to all patients within three to four months.
Current patients can make a telemedicine appointment over the phone. They will be sent an email with a link that takes them to the telemedicine portal where they can meet their provider for a health care appointment. Patients can use a laptop, tablet or cell phone with internet access to access their appointment. Eventually, ETSU Health will add a link on the website that any patient can use to make a telemedicine appointment.
“This service saves patients travel time and cost, and the convenience makes compliance easier for the patient,” Canavan said. “It gives patients who live far from us access to the medical experts at ETSU.”
To learn more about ETSU Health, visit www.etsuhealth.org.