Berks Community Health Center began offering video visits and visits by telephone, also known as telehealth, during the COVID-19 crisis. These visits are permitted by insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid so that patients can have visits with their provider while protecting themselves and others from exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Telehealth allows the provider to evaluate how the patient looks and sounds, review labs, and routine problems, discuss any new concerns or symptoms and refill or write prescriptions. If a patient should be seen in person, the provider will follow up with an in-person office visit or direct them to the ER.
Screening for COVID-19 can be done by telehealth, and order for testing can be sent directly to a local testing site. This is important because even as restrictions are lifted, there is a good chance that people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms may be asked to call their healthcare providers before coming into the office.
Of course, some visits must be done in person, like babies’ checkups including vaccinations, dental emergencies, or symptoms requiring a physical exam. For these visits, BCHC takes precautions that minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for the patients and the staff.
We all look forward to everything returning to normal, seeing all of our patients in person. But telehealth has been a helpful tool, and it is sure to remain in our clinical toolbox in the future. Also, infectious disease experts caution that until there is a vaccine, we should continue to minimize the chances of exposure to COVID-19. So, don’t be surprised if precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing continue in the months to come.
Berks Community Health Center