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    Virtual visits boost primary care outcomes

     

    “The telemedicine cart can be just wheeled into patients’ rooms, and they don’t have to be transported,” says Young. That allows for transportation savings, but it also saves time and allows practitioners to see other patients in their offices.

     

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    “With (electronically transmitted data), a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant might be able to recognize (an acute) situation even before the patient knows,” Fickel says.

    “This is an extra level of support, and we can catch things that otherwise would be unaddressed,” says Erin Green, RN, executive director for digital health operations at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network.

    Telehealth visits can also be a way extended care providers can reach patients who otherwise wouldn’t visit their primary care providers.

    “For an 80-year-old patient who maybe can’t drive so well and doesn’t have a lot of family support, most of a primary care visit could be done with telemedicine, and it would make their lives a whole lot easier,” Young says. “A lot of these patients just aren’t getting medical care. Instead of hopping in the car and driving to see a doctor, they’re just not going to the doctor. Telemedicine might improve outcomes, and it might decrease hospitalizations.”

     

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    Virtual visits can also give physicians tools to better manage patients suffering from challenging illnesses and diseases. “Telehealth also allows physicians to keep closer tabs on their sickest patients,” says Peter Antall, MD, chief medical officer for American Well. “It allows a nurse practitioner or even a nurse to be responsible for weekly check-ins with an unstable COPD patient, an asthmatic who keeps being admitted into the emergency department and others.”

    Extended care providers can also use telehealth during office visits to connect patients with other specialty providers, like connecting a depressed patient with a mental health care provider or a patient who comes in with a rash to a dermatologist.

    Next: “The key is understanding"

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