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Telehealth growing in popularity due to COVID-19

Updated: Dec. 17, 2020 at 7:46 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In this year of firsts because of the pandemic, doctors are seeing a greater number of patients through a computer screen.

Telehealth or telemedicine is a virtual visit with your doctor that’s gaining in popularity as this two-way video communication has now become the preferred choice for some patients.

When at Lexington Medical Center’s Saluda Pointe Urgent Care, you’ll hear “I’m Dr. Crump. I’ll be taking care of you today, virtually.”

Call after call, Dr. Todd Crump spends a chunk of his day seeing his patients through a computer screen.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of telehealth within my hospital, but it’s become very popular now that COVID’s come to town because people are just afraid to go to a facility and risk catching COVID,” said Dr. Crump.

In fact, telehealth visits are becoming just as prevalent as in-person visits not just because of avoiding exposure to COVID, but because of the convenience factor.

Dr. Crump says it’s really been a game-changer, especially for working parents.

The most common virtual condition Dr. Crump sees? Sinusitis.

“Folks come into the screen and say I get a sinus infection every year when the weather changes,” said Dr. Crump.

All ages are using the telemedicine option. Dr. Crump has people in their 70s using it -- though he says his nurses sometimes have to help walk the older generations through the technology.

“I’ve had a patient log in and say, ‘I’m going to be the easiest patients you’ve had today. I have a rash.’ Holds it up to the camera. And I can actually take a picture of it and put it in her chart and then send a steroid cream to her pharmacy,” said Dr. Crump.

For the Lexington Medical Center network, there are two requirements to use the urgent care visit. A patient must have an LMC MyChart account. That’s the hospital system’s electronic health record. The patient must also confirm he or she is physically located in South Carolina at the time of the virtual visit.

You do not actually schedule a virtual visit. They are on-demand visits. That means a patient puts him or herself in a queue to request the visit. Then, the healthcare provider is notified that a patient is waiting. The staff will notify the patient when the doctor is ready.

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