When the pandemic hit in March, the Cleveland Clinic had to rapidly pivot to using telehealth for more of its services than ever before, skyrocketing from around 2% of visits to 60% in only a few weeks. The forward-thinking hospital system already had a framework for virtual health, so when the first case of COVID-19 was found in Ohio, Dr. Steven Shook, lead for virtual health, was ready with a newly trained team and a robust virtual system in place. He talks to us about how telehealth works and why it’s an important tool in maintaining your health care.
Q: What types of things should you use telehealth for?
A: If someone has chest pain or stroke-like symptoms, they need to go immediately to an emergency department. But for somebody with an urgent care case like mild headache or runny nose, we have a lot of experience with providing virtual care in that space.
Q: What about more routine visits or checkups?
A: Scheduled virtual visits rapidly grew during the pandemic. We have the ability for patients to connect with their providers, both synchronously, meaning through a video encounter or through remote patient monitoring, or asynchronously where you can send in a request to renew a prescription on our online portal. You’ll know that that’s been taken care of because you’ll get a ping through a secure messaging system. Our vision is to make getting your health care as easy as booking a flight.
Q: Why is it important to not delay care?
A: It’s probably most important to think about how we do our chronic disease management. So patients who have high blood pressure, diabetes or any number of chronic diseases benefit from a regular touch point with a health care provider. Maintaining those touch points are critical in order to prevent larger problems down the road.