As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, health care providers are turning to technology to help treat patients who may be infected and also prevent the spread of the illness.
While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, plans to use telehealth technology to fight the spread of the virus are already in place at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
According to Eric Wallace, M.D., the medical director of UAB eMedicine, UAB is considering using telehealth through three approaches to help care for patients both in Birmingham and around the state.
Keep patients at home
The first approach is to keep as many patients who do not have upper respiratory symptoms at home, especially those who have weakened immune systems. The most common COVID-19 symptoms are fever, runny nose, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and body aches.
“We plan to use telehealth technology to see as many patients in their homes as possible, especially those who are most at risk, such as the elderly and immunosuppressed patients,” Wallace said. “For example, if you have a urinary tract infection, the last thing you should do is go to the doctor’s office and wait in a waiting room when you could have had your UTI treated from home.”
If you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, you should call your health care provider first before going to the doctor’s office. If you do not have any of the symptoms, but need medical care, Wallace recommends calling your doctor or using UAB’s eMedicine online service. The service allows doctors to diagnose and treat patients for a variety of common conditions online. Furthermore, UAB’s eMedicine online service is now serving as a location to help screen patients with COVID-19 symptoms to determine whether referral for in-person testing is necessary.