Wondering about telemedicine?

Millions of Illinoisans are subject to the state’s “stay at home” order because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. But while we all endeavor to hang out at home as much as possible, accidents still happen. Sprained ankles, earaches, rashes and any number of other maladies; some small, some large; occur on a daily basis.

But the last thing anyone wants to do these days is go to a doctor’s office or an ER unless they have to. So what to do? Many Illinois health care institutions are expanding their telemedicine services to meet the need during this emergency.

Telemedicine allows patients to get in touch with their health care provider over the phone or via video chat to discuss their symptoms and get medical advice without having to leave home. It is a good way to meet a community’s medical needs without having to compromise your social distancing efforts. 

For those considered to be at high-risk susceptibility to coronavirus, it can be a life-saving tool to limit exposure to the disease.

Loren Hughes, president of Springfield’s HSHS Medical Group told Fox Illinois about their efforts to encourage patients to use telemedicine.

“A patient can log in and using technology and video technology, our providers can sit at another location and actually see the patient and talk to the patient,” Hughes said.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has been encouraging patients and providers alike to take advantage of telemedicine technology to keep people safe during the coronavirus outbreak, “as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health, when conducted within the context of appropriate standards of care.”

The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services recently released a fact sheet on these telemedicine services and also more information on how Medicaid patients might access them.

Telemedicine has also provided a unique service during this emergency, as it allows doctors who might be themselves in quarantine to keep seeing patients from home. It offers a chance to keep staffing levels at hospitals and offices from falling off during the outbreak.

So if your home improvement project is interrupted by a smashed thumb, or dinner is delayed by a burn from a hot pan, don’t reach for the car keys for a trip to the clinic. Instead reach for your phone to find out if your health care provider offers telemedicine services. 

You just might be able to get the care you need from the comfort of your own self-quarantine.