In effort to connect with more patients during the current COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis Medical Center has expanded their medical outreach with the new telehealth platform.

Telehealth, also referred to as telemedicine, offers virtual appointments and assistance online to those in need of healthcare. Patients are now able to use their phones or tablets to reach medical professions at any given moment.

“Our telehealth platform provides patients with online access to doctors 24/7,” said Arif Hussain, MD, and Internal Medicine physician at St. Francis Medical Center. “Our telehealth patients have shared that they enjoy the ease and convenience of virtual visits. Most telehealth visits are done from the comfort of the patient’s home.”

This telehealth way of assisting the community not only saves time on booking appointments, but also gives sick patients the opportunity to receive medical care from any location, breaking down geographical barriers.

“Some patients do not have access to transportation,” said Dr. Hussain. “Telehealth allows the patient to access the care they need without the worry of commuting back and forth from the physician’s office.”

St. Francis Medical Center is offering three telehealth options. Each option will connect patients to experienced healthcare providers on either a computer, smart phone or tablet.

The first option is an online chat where patients’ questions are answered online. For this option, no appointment is necessary.

The second option offered via telehealth is a video office visit with a medical provider. Patients seeking this treatment must call the physician’s office and request a virtual appointment. The patient is then given a secure link or phone number to use at the designated time to be connected with their doctor.

“A virtual video visit is similar to what you’d experience in an office,” said Dr. Hussain. “Patients receive a high-level of care through telehealth office visits. We can examine areas over the phone, ask questions and if needed, then prescribe medication.”

The third option patients have through the telehealth platform is a COVID-19 screening.  This screening will help to determine patient risk level and the next steps needed to be taken.

During a COVID-19 screening, doctors can assess patients with minor symptoms and refer them to a testing site if needed. For patients with more severe symptoms, doctors can issue a referral to a hospital.

“In this way, we can alert the hospital that a possible COVID-19 patient is coming so they can best prepare,” said Dr. Hussain. “It’s important, especially during this time that we have coordinated care across facilities.”

In addition to the physical health assistance patients have through the telehealth platform, St. Francis Medical Center is also offering services for mental health. Telehealth works well for both new patients and those who want to continue with care, but are nervous about in-person visits.

Between all three assistances offered through telehealth, St. Francis Medical Center wants to ensure patients feel comfortable. Dr. Hussain said, “Patients should know that they can share their medical concerns with the assurance that their information is secure and confidential through our virtual office visits.”

To access all three options, or to get more information on each option, patients are asked to visit the St. Francis website at www.stfrancismedical.org.