Florida Hospitals use virtual appointments to cut down on spreading Coronavirus

Northwest Florida Community Hospital officials say the new app allows patients to visit the...
Northwest Florida Community Hospital officials say the new app allows patients to visit the doctor and keep people safe from the outbreak. )(WJHG)
Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 5:36 PM CDT
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If there’s one thing medical experts keep telling us, it’s the larger the gathering of people, the larger the risk of spreading Covid-19; that includes Doctor’s offices and waiting rooms. To cut down on crowds, NorthWest Florida Hospitals have rolled out telemedicine programs—virtual visits with doctors and physicians.

“In the current crisis when we saw a need for especially our elderly patients to be able to stay home and not be exposed to potential virus problems," explained Dr. Leisa Bailey, a physician at NWFH as well as Bailey Family Practice, "they actually got on board very quick and rolled this out in an extremely short period of time.”

Setting up an appointment couldn’t be easier, and the appointments can be done with any electronic device that is WiFi compatible and has a webcam.

“When you call your doctor's office they will offer you a telemedicine visit. And if that’s what you think you would like to do, and if the physician feels like it’s appropriate, then we will send you an invitation through the email," Bailey explained.

While telemedicine is keeping those most vulnerable safe, it also helps another demographic.

“It’s very good especially in rural areas, areas like our areas," said Bailey, "if you have internet and transportation issues, you can do your visits over the phone too and that’s really nice.”

Dr. Bailey doesn’t see Telemedicine becoming the sole way patients visit doctors.

“I wouldn’t want all of my visits with the patient to be online, but in the future maybe they’ll come in to see me once every six months, and that in-between visit can be online," Bailey said.

However, in light of the changes made due to this pandemic, the response has raised some important questions for the future.

“As we’ve seen this going on further we’re realizing, you know, a lot of this stuff like getting patients right back to the exam room not having a big, crowded lobby, we’re going to have to do a better job with this even when this is over," Bailey said, "it’s going to be better for all of us, for a long time.”

The following NWFH facilities now offer telemedicine services: Bailey Family Practice, Chipley Medical Group, Family Healthcare of Chipley, Graceville Clinic, Vernon Clinic, NWCH Specialty Clinic Offices of Doctors, Byrd, Taing, Beggs, and Toner.