HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In the past two weeks, the Huntsville Hospital Heart Center has held 381 virtual appointments.
Non-urgent cardiology patients are still keeping their regular appointments, but instead of coming to the hospital, they’re meeting with their physician via a telehealth program.
This telehealth program is a temporary measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, but Dr. Jacqueline Green feels some patients will prefer the program moving forward.
“Prior to the pandemic, we’d just go from room to room seeing patients,” she said. “Talking to them about their problems, prescribing and adjusting medications.”
Dr. Green’s team reviews upcoming appointments and decides if it’s safe for the patient to check in with her virtually, instead.
“There’s something to be said for just laying eyes on people,” she said. “Do they look well or do they not look well? Do they look like they’re in distress, do they look like they’re having difficulty breathing?”
Dr. Green says– in a way– she’s learning more about her patients.
“I didn’t think about how you can learn about a person just by seeing their home,” she said.
This program was designed to be temporary, but Dr. Green hopes to be able to offer this service even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.
“Down the road when the pandemic’s over, there’s going to be a portion of patients who are really going to want to do this for their check-ins,” she said.
If a patient has a virtual appointment, and afterward it’s clear a patient needs a physical exam, they can still go to the hospital to see a physician.