x

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

More doctors turn to telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic

Virtual visits keep people away from each other when they're sick. That could help stop the spread of illness, including COVID-19.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Right now, millions are using Facetime, Zoom or Skype to connect with friends and family. During this pandemic, doctors and physicians are too! More of them are using technology to connect with patients for a virtual visit. 

RELATED: Digital doctor: CVS to offer smartphone telemedicine service

"It's a convenience, but it also provides access to care,” said Matthew Faiman with Cleveland Clinic. “It allows us to see a patient, really within a few minutes."

Unlike traditional phone calls, video communication methods like Facetime help doctors actually see patients from miles away.

"We get that body language, that interaction with the patient to say, 'I think it would be helpful if we did this.' Or, 'I am concerned that your symptoms are suggestive enough that you need in-person care," Faiman said. 

Apps like "Teladoc" or "Doctor on Demand" connect users with doctors over the phone. Some allow you to video chat or text. Virtual visits keep people away from each other when they're sick. That could help stop the spread of illness, including COVID-19

For people who are well, they can avoid the germs in a doctor’s office from other sick people. Plus, doctors say when healthy people use telemedicine it helps free up ER rooms to see patients who need hands-on care right away.

It's not just for your physical health. Telemedicine is being used for all kinds of virtual visits, including mental health, to help maintain social distancing while making sure you get the care you need. The apps are free, but there are costs for connecting with a physician. The costs vary based on the doctors' services and your insurance.

RELATED: `Telemedicine technology' expanding in Tennessee

Before you cancel that doctors' visit or run to the ER, call your physician and see if you can schedule a virtual visit from your couch.