BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo-based Mobile Telemed has seen a spike in telemedicine usage in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic has hit New York State.
Mobile Telemed is a virtual urgent care system that is used in patients' homes, schools and nursing homes across the state.
"Folks don't want to leave, and buildings don't want their patients leaving, residents leaving. [They're] also limiting the amount of people coming in. Our providers are essential personnel [but facilities are] limiting the amount of people in the building. It [telemedicine] is really a win-win for our providers and the patients," said Brian Przybysz, Mobile Telemed's vice president of business development.
Przybysz also said the company is hearing from companies and facilities who are now interested in getting their telemedicine equipment and programs.
During this time when social distancing is encouraged, telemedicine can help cut down on unnecessary trips to the emergency room and potentially help keep hospital beds open for potential coronavirus patients.
A patient or nurse initiates a video call and uses special Bluetooth equipment for a remote checkup.
A doctor on the other end of the telemedicine call can hear and see the results, make a diagnosis, and prescribe a treatment plan without a traditional visit.
Mobile Telemed's equipment and programs are widely used at nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities.
Seniors, who are some of the most vulnerable patients, can get care for less serious medical issues without being exposed to the general public in the emergency room.
Telemedicine has been growing in popularity in recent years, but Przybysz anticipates the current health crisis will change people's view on virtual medicine.
"I think the payers (health insurance companies) are coming on board and allowing payment for telemedicine visits. This is something I think we are going to see continue on after this pandemic is over," said Przybysz.
MobileTelemed is practicing social distancing too. The company has cut back on the number of employees in the office but has expanded hours to answer more calls each day.
Their providers, like nurses, are essential workers and are still out in the field.
Mobile Telemed has the ability to order coronavirus tests for patients, but they're dealing with the shortage of test supplies too.