HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Nowadays, to have a doctor's visit, you don’t even have to leave your house. During March of 2020 alone, the month coronavirus cases were present in all 50 states, the use of telehealth jumped up over 4,000 percent from the numbers in 2019.
We sat with Dr. Neha Shah of Thrive Alabama to talk all things ‘telehealth’ and get the answers you need to know. During the pandemic, the number of people using telehealth has spiked. But, a lot of people still have questions.
Dr. Shah tells our reporter, “I’d say we’re about at 80% telehealth right now, actually.” She says, with the use of telehealth, Thrive is able to see the same number of patients as before the pandemic.
Dr. Shah says, “I think a lot of the patients have really enjoyed telehealth-- the ease of it.”
For some who are new to virtual healthcare, questions could linger; questions like how secure receiving health care online could be. Dr. Shah tells us, “It's similar to using Zoom... but more secure. There’s a separate ‘Zoom’ for health care that is encrypted both ways. Most of the apps or the electronic medical records that have their own telehealth platforms are encrypted also. So they’re going to be safe on both ends.”
Can you use telehealth for regular visits? Dr. Shah tells us that's actually one of the most beneficial uses. She adds, “Peoples’ chronic conditions are also being managed. We don’t want to forego that because we know that coronavirus affects those with certain comorbidities more than others so ensuring that cases of diabetes or hypertension are controlled or identified is really important.”
Dr. Shah says she thinks the uptick in telehealth will be here to stay even after the pandemic. She says, “I do think the pendulum is going to swing back to having in-person appointments. You just can’t beat that. You need physical exams and you need to see some people face to face. Sometimes it’s nice for someone to get out of the house and get out of wherever they are because they have personal information they don’t want to be overheard.”
Dr. Shah adds, “I think there’s always going to be a place for old school medicine where we’re in the clinic and seeing patients in the clinic. But, I think we’re not fully going to fully get back there. That we’re going to have a mix.”
The number of medical claims made via telehealth in April of this year was more than 8,000% higher than the numbers in 2019.
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