More patients turning to telemedicine

Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 10:43 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Telemedicine is growing by leaps and bounds right now. But how does it work?

It’s a safer option when it comes to being seen by a doctor, after all, who wants to sit in a waiting room surrounded by other people who might be infected with coronavirus? Each doctor does telemedicine a little differently. Dr. Ben Barlow is Chief Medical Officer with American Family Care.

“We found that we got patients registered the fastest and most efficient way when they actually went to a website," says Dr. Barlow.

You can visit to register and fill out the pages detailing your symptoms and medical history. Then the office calls you on the phone, gets some more information, and connects you to a provider.

“Patients are more comfortable talking at first, because sometimes it’s awkward to be FaceTiming with someone you don’t know, you don’t know where you are. So, we just start with phone conversations and talk to them about what’s going on.”

But when it comes to getting those vitals, like temperature and heart rate, then they have to improvise.

“Sometimes they’re wearing a smartwatch, so you can say, what’s the heart rate on your smartwatch say? So we try to use everything available to us. And if we need to progress to video, then we go to video if they need to show us a rash, or something on their face.”

And they can prescribe medications directly to the patient’s pharmacy, or setup an appointment if it’s necessary for them to be seen in person. Barlow is grateful to have advanced technology that helps them do their job.

“It’s amazing. It’s been great, the interactions with patients and how appreciative they are during this time because patients are scared. They don’t want to leave the house at times, but we don’t want people neglecting their health.”

American Family Care saw over 100 patients just on Wednesday this week. UAB is also doing telemedicine, they saw over 3,000 patients this week.

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