Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last spring, we have added phrases to our vocabulary, such as social distancing and personal protective equipment.
Another term used is telemedicine, which allows physicians to conduct a video visit with patients via platforms developed for physicians.
Sparrow Health System has seen an increase in virtual health visits since last spring. While telemedicine was part of Sparrow’s strategic plans, the pandemic hastened its use.
“We were moving ahead in this arena well before COVID, because we saw it as a piece of the way health care would be delivered in the future,” said Sparrow Director of Retail Health Care Patrick Sustrich. “It’s safe to say that COVID accelerated our progress in implementing our virtual strategy.”
In March 2020, Sparrow conducted no virtual office visits. A month later, 4,500 patients were seen in video settings.
The summer months saw a decline in telemedicine when offices reopened for in-person visits, but remote appointments picked up in the fall when the state imposed another round of restrictions.
On a national basis, the American Medical Association credited telehealth for keeping patients and doctors connected.
“Telehealth and remote care services have proven critical to the management of COVID-19, while also ensuring uninterrupted care for 100 million Americans with chronic conditions,” said the association’s president, Dr. Susan R. Bailey.
“You’re going to see patients gravitating toward this type of care out of convenience, and it’s going to help increase access to health care,” he said.