Alabama clinic launching telemedicine service

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (PR) -- As the nation slips deeper into the grip of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the uncertainty over who might be infected and how to receive an accurate diagnosis is a realistic concern. In an effort to stem the spread of the infection and provide telemedicine services for all health care, American Family Care (AFC), one of the nation’s largest and oldest networks of urgent and accessible primary care clinics and the first such provider in Birmingham and the state of Alabama, announced today the launch of its AFC/TeleCare Virtual Telemedicine Service (AFCUrgentCare.com/Telecare or 1-888-881-1048).

The online call command center is available to anyone, not just current patients of American Family Care (AFC), and will allow Physicians and Advanced Practice Providers (APP) to virtually screen patients for possible coronavirus infection and treat other acute and chronic illnesses for patients of all ages prior to stepping foot in a medical facility. Patients needing further care will be directed to a local AFC clinic or other appropriate health care resource es needed. With 18 clinics in the Birmingham metro area and 44 clinics across the state of Alabama, American Family Care (AFC) has the reach to help Alabamians across the state during this crisis.

Patients are able to interact with an AFC Physician or Advanced Practice Provider from the security of their homes via phone or internet, determining the best next step for each individual medical situation. As each day in this crisis unfolds, one of the constants is a request to save doctor’s offices and emergency rooms for those who are truly sick. This new AFC/TeleCare Hotline offers a first stop to determine if other healthcare is needed. This is particularly critical for the elderly and the chronically ill who should avoid potential exposure to the virus in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals. It is also important for potential patients of all ages who may not need to physically be seen in the doctor’s office for treatment for other acute and chronic problems, thereby cutting their risk of exposure to other illnesses.

“In this healthcare crisis, American Family Care’s mission is to provide quick and easily accessible medical screenings in a manner that keeps infected patients away from our most vulnerable populations, while also ensuring that anyone potentially infected with COVID-19 is directed to the proper testing facility,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, Chief Medical Officer of American Family Care (AFC) and White House physician under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump. “This new AFC/TeleCare Hotline (AFCUrgentCare.com/Telecare or 1-888-881-1048) provides a centralized call command center for Alabama residents to determine if they may have COVID-19 and those who may have other medical issues but are concerned about going to a doctor’s office in this environment.”

Almost all health insurance companies, such as Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, have agreed to cover the AFC/TeleCare Hotline calls for the cost of a copay. For those patients whose insurance won’t currently cover the screening, they can pay a flat fee of $49.

In development over the last year, AFC is now launching this service. The service is now available throughout the state of Alabama and eventually to the 236 American Family Care (AFC) locations in 25 states. Anyone can call the AFC/TeleCare Hotline at 888-881-1048 or log in on the internet (AFCUrgentCare.com/Telecare). Physicians and advanced practice providers will then screen patients for possible COVID-19 infection and other illnesses. They will be able to schedule appointments at any of the American Family Care (AFC) locations and even prescribe medication where applicable. The AFC/TeleCare Hotline is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., seven days a week. AFC clinics will remain open and operational for those patients requiring an in-person visit during their usual hours.

“Our goal is to relieve what could become an overburdened healthcare system and make it easier, and healthier, for patients to seek medical help,” continued Dr. Barlow. “We cover the state in a way no other healthcare provider does, from Huntsville to Orange Beach, making it convenient for our citizens needing medical care during this time. Please follow all CDC guidelines for this coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.”