Doctor talks telemedicine boom during pandemic
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Telemedicine is not a new concept to medical professionals. But the use of phone and video visits exploded during the pandemic.
The CDC said shortly after the pandemic began, telemedicne visits went up by 50%. That’s compared to the same time the year before.
Dr. Seema Csukas works with healthcare coverage provider, Caresource. She said telemedicine gave people a sense of safety when so many were fearful.
“At a time when people were reluctant to go to a physician’s office, telemedicine offered an access point that just didn’t exist before. I think during the pandemic there was a relaxation in regulatory requirements, financial requirements so that telemedicine has become much more accessible,” she said.
One changed regulation allowed medical professionals to provide telemedicine services without having to conduct an in-person exam first.
Csukas said now that it has gained awareness, more people will continue to use telemedicine after the pandemic.
“I think we will see a higher use now that people have realized what telemedicine is and how convenient it can be,” Csukas said. “There definitely will be more use. Some of it will depend on what happens with the regulatory requirements once the public health emergency is over.”
Csuskas said an issue some smaller communities in southwest Georgia may face is reliable phone and internet service to make telemedicine a viable option.
“I think the biggest challenge for some folks is to make sure they have a telecommunication line. Whether that’s the internet or just phone service,” she said. “That can sometimes be a challenge in some smaller communities.”
Csuskas also said telemedicine is not a replacement for in-person visits. Caresource provided funding to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital early on in the pandemic to enhance in-person care.
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