Telemedicine is having a moment. How can patients make use of the growing industry?
A mask and an iPad. That’s what a patient displaying symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus is handed when they arrive at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. From an isolation room, the patient can then use their iPad to video chat with a remotely-located nurse practitioner who can evaluate their symptoms and determine next steps — all without a face-to-face interaction. The process is called tele-triage, and it is just one of several ways telehealth is revolutionizing patient treatment in the coronavirus era. From symptom-checking text bots to more traditional video chat consultations, telemedicine is having a moment — and it’s a moment industry leaders say is a longtime coming. “This crisis has supercharged interest and opportunity in telehealth on both the patient side and the provider side,” said Dr. Ryan Arnold, an Omaha-based orthopedic surgeon. “I feel like this is accelerating a trend that was going to happen regardless. And it’s going to be here to stay on the back end.” Medical professionals across the board agree that broad-scale telemedicine could help solve many of the problems confronting the American health care system as it struggles to stay afloat amid the crush of COVID-19 cases. “What telehealth can