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Dr. Cohen Talks About Telehealth During COVID-19

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Laura Zabriskie

June 18, 2020
For many, telehealth has become the new normal in medical care, but some are concerned about how well it will work for them. To explain telehealth video visits, Neri Cohen, MD, Lead Clinical Informatics Liaison and Vice Chair of Innovation, Information, and Technology at GBMC, joined WBAL Radio’s Coronavirus Townhall with hosts, C4 and Bryan Nehman.

Dr. Cohen acknowledged that there are both advantages and disadvantages to telehealth. Certain conditions such as a lump in the breast need to be examined in person but, for most cases “there is a huge amount of information that a clinician can discover just by looking at patients and watching them interact.” Telehealth also offers the unique opportunity for providers to see a patient’s home which allows for a more personalized experience.

Patients are able to show their doctor their medicine cabinet and other things in their home that may be presenting challenges for them. For example, a provider may notice in a video visit that there are a lot of stairs in the home. If the patient is experiencing mobility issues, the provider can work with the patient to address the specific issues he or she is facing in that environment.

When asked about the feedback received from patients, Dr. Cohen responded, “what we’ve discovered is that patients actually are quite comfortable, and frankly, it’s been very successful.” Patients often find it more convenient to see their doctor in their home than to travel to an office. Eliminating travel time makes it easier to talk to their doctor because the visit takes less time overall. This is especially helpful for patients who are working full-time or have children to care for.

For those who are unsure about whether they are comfortable with virtual medicine, Dr. Cohen drew a comparison between online banking and telehealth. “Few people are hesitant to use online banking to interact with their banks – we can do the same thing in healthcare,” he explained. “As with every new technology, it is challenging to get people to adopt it,” he described, but he assured listeners that in a majority of cases, telehealth is just as effective as going into a doctor’s office.

While the rise in telehealth was caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that this new form of healthcare is here to stay. “GBMC will continue to provide this service because we can see a definite benefit to our patients,” said Dr. Cohen. Click here to learn more about telehealth at GBMC and here to learn about the safety measures being taken to protect patients who need to come for in-person visits.

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