Recognizing that patients prioritize convenient and inexpensive care, Duffy and Lee recently asked whether in-person visits should become the second, third, or even last option for meeting patient needs.1 Previous work has specifically described the potential for using telemedicine in disasters and public health emergencies.2 No telemedicine program can be created overnight, but U.S. health systems that have already implemented telemedical innovations can leverage them for the response to Covid-19.
A central strategy for health care surge control is “forward triage” — the sorting of patients before they arrive in the emergency department (ED). Direct-to-consumer (or on-demand) telemedicine, a 21st-century approach to forward triage that allows patients to be efficiently screened, is both patient-centered and conducive to self-quarantine, and it protects patients, clinicians, and the community from exposure. It can allow physicians and patients to communicate 24/7, using smartphones or webcam-enabled computers. Respiratory symptoms — which may be early signs of Covid-19 — are among the conditions most commonly evaluated with this approach. Health care providers can easily obtain detailed travel and exposure histories. Automated screening algorithms can be built into the intake process, and local epidemiologic information can be used to standardize screening and practice patterns across providers.
Read the full article: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2003539?query=featured_home