The Abbeville Area Physician Network has expanded its telemedicine capabilities in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. The telemedicine program is currently being utilized by Due West Family Medicine, the Healthcare Center and Savannah Lakes Family Medicine. Diabetes and behavioral health services are also available using the technology.
“We knew that many people were afraid to come to the hospital or practices due to the COVID-19 illness,” stated Dean Turner, Abbeville Area Medical Center CEO. “We didn’t want people to avoid getting their healthcare needs addressed when many could be handled remotely by telemedicine.”
Telemedicine or “virtual” visits can be used to address many health concerns that are typically seen every day in the office such as routine follow ups, annual checkups, medication monitoring visits, the discussion of abnormal test results, or evaluating simple skin conditions. Stress, anxiety, depression, or sleep issues as well as behavioral health counseling and therapy can also be addressed.
Telemedicine visits are simple to schedule. The patient calls the practice and requests an appointment. If a telemedicine visit is appropriate to address the health concern, the patient will receive an email or text message just prior to their appointment from their provider that includes a quick link that opens to a secure website portal. The patient types in their name and briefly waits for the clinician to begin the visit. A smartphone or laptop/computer with a camera and an internet connection that can support streaming a video are the only requirements. Some types of visits can be completed over a basic phone line.
Telehealth visits are not intended for medical emergencies. Patients needing emergency care should call 911.
The hospital’s home health agency, Health Related Home Care, has been using home telemonitors, a form of telehealth, for several years. Used to monitor conditions like congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes and COPD, the technology guides patients through a simple process to collect health information such as heart rate, blood pressure, weight, oxygen saturation and blood sugar readings from the patient’s glucometer. All information is transferred directly to a home health nurse. The monitors also have video capability that allows the patients to chat with their nurses in real time if needed.
“We want to remind the community that Abbeville Area Medical Center is taking all possible measures to keep those who need to come to our practices or hospital for outpatient or emergency services safe,” stated Turner. “We continue to be diligent with screening all staff and visitors as well as following all CDC guidelines to ensure a clean environment for our patients to receive care.
If you are interested in finding out more about how the Abbeville Area Physician Network can assist you with your healthcare needs, please call Due West Family Medicine at 864-379-2345, the Healthcare Center at 864-366-9681, Savannah Lakes Family Medicine at 864-391-2025 or Health Related Home Care at 864-366-9151.
Caption: Dr. Blake Hodges, Family Medicine physician at the Healthcare Center who helped implement the telemedicine program, demonstrates the ease of using the technology for a virtual visit with staff member Valencia Mattison, CMA.