Future of telemedicine changes with universal broadband

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 3:55 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A new era has begun in the medical profession. Doctors no longer need to be in the same room as their patients for every visit.

The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on a very real medical divide, the accessibility of virtual health care.

“Many of our virtual visits had to be converted over to a telephonic visit simply because the patient did not have access to broadband or to the internet,” says Dr. Stephen Morgan, Senior VP and Chief Medical Information Officer for Carilion Clinic.

The commonwealth’s recent universal broadband grants are designed to equip 90% of Virginia with high-speed internet, making healthcare more accessible in more ways than one.

“The option to have an experience that is much more convenient, easy for them to do from the comfort of their home and ability to have a follow-up at any one of our offices if we need to,” adds Dr. Morgan.

Telehealth has been especially useful in the department of psychiatry. Carilion’s psychiatrists are performing about 64% of their overall visits using telemedicine.

“We’ve found that in a lot of cases particularly behavioral health, it’s actually more effective to be able to have those conversations when a patient is in their home,” says Dr. Morgan.

In the next five years, clinicians anticipate increased telemedicine options and remote patient monitoring services.

“Devices we can put in a patient’s home to monitor not only their heart and lungs, but actually be able to see the patient, listen to their heart and lungs, and to be able to even do an ear nose and throat exam all virtually with a device,” explains Dr. Morgan. “I think you’ll see more and more wearables that will be able to give clinicians information from patients remotely that will transform the way we care for our community.”

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