NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The East Texas Community Health Center is encouraging patients who meet the criteria to utilize its telemedicine service. They see the clinician face to face, but don’t even have to leave their house. Roger Anthony set it up and explains patients use their web browser on a smartphone or device.
“They just connect directly to it. Then we can invite them via a text message or an e-mail," said Anthony.
And once connected the patient is seen by the doctor or clinician.
"We can see ourselves up in the [screen’s] right corner and then we will see Anita in the main screen here."
That's Anita Humphreys, the health center's director playing the role of a patient who can benefit from telemedicine.
“Particularly right now when people are being encouraged to stay home, stay safe,” said Humphreys. [It’s] “not only for our women’s health patients but also some of our chronic disease patients. Our diabetics that are in control.”
Consultations prior to prescription orders can take place too. If necessary, the patient can use their phone camera to give the clinician a peek down their throat or let them observe blood pressure checks.
Telemedicine isn't new, but with the threat of COVID-19 more private physicians, therapists and clinics are utilizing the virtual option.
What providers don't like is often the reimbursement is less than what they receive for an in-clinic visit.
"We're getting reimbursed in several different ways. None of them at the level that we're currently being reimbursed for, so the revenue stream is definitely something we need to pay attention to," said Humphreys.
But not to the degree of paying attention to the prevention of COVID-19.
"As we all know, our world right now is changing and our norm may not stay our norm," said Humphreys.
Telemedicine appointments are offered from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. If demand requires, more hours will be added.