The need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic has made people second-guess even their most important face-to-face interactions.
That includes going to the doctor’s office.
But technology has allowed people to make the trip digitally instead. Through telehealth, doctors are able to see patients in a manner similar to a FaceTime or Skype call. The only difference is that the call is integrated into the patient’s medical records and is compliant with health privacy laws, said Dr. Paul Fu, deputy chief medical officer at Auburn Community Hospital.
A neurologist, Fu was the medical director of telehealth at the Yale University School of Medicine prior to coming to Auburn. His role at the Auburn hospital has included leading its adoption of telehealth, he said, given how many rural patients it sees. But as the coronavirus pandemic began spreading throughout the country weeks ago, that process sped up dramatically.
In that time frame, Fu said, the hospital has set up 90% of its affiliated health care providers — or 35 out of about 40 — with telehealth capability. Though providers would usually reserve the technology for less intensive visits, like follow-ups, the hospital has made the option available to anyone who’d rather stay home than risk coming to the office during the pandemic.
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