Afraid to go to the doctor and be exposed to COVID-19? Try Telehealth

Doctor Speaking via patient via computer

By Cash Michaels

April 24, 2020 11:31AM
Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, and NC Medicaid are reaching out to the African-American community, recommending that it begin using “Telehealth,” a new method using a computer, smartphone or telephone to keep scheduled appointments, and speak with your health provider. Telehealth is perfect for those who are afraid to leave home, and possibly expose themselves to the virus at their doctor’s office.

“We know that communities of color are being harder hit by COVID-19 than others, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen told her agency via video this week, urging them to pay particular attention to the 38% disproportionate cases and deaths in the Black community.

Telehealth is seen as a way to make sure that African-American patients receive the timely observation they need, especially during this health pandemic. It has become a vital tool when it comes to connecting rural patients with their doctors.

Telehealth is available through mobile apps such as MD Live, FaceTime, WhatsApp video chat and Skype and video conferencing platforms such a Zoom or WebEx.

Patient portal message and telephone calls without video are also considered “Virtual Health” visits. Just call your doctor’s office and inquire about using Telehealth for your next appointment.

African-Americans, notably, have not used Telehealth out of concerns for confidentiality privacy, but health officials assure that the practice is secure.

Patients can receive therapy, mental health and some development disability services through Telehealth. And if Medicaid patients fear that they may be sick, they are advised to stay at home, call either their doctor or 1-1877-490-6642 for advice. If you feel that you have COVOD-19 symptoms, again, stay at home, but keep yourself away from your family if you’re experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty breathing chest pain or pressure, and call 911.

Telehealth is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross-Blue Shield of NC.

“Technology is evolving quickly and our ability to assist our most vulnerable citizens through creative uses of this tool has vastly increased,” NCDHHS staff wrote in a report to the NC General Assembly in 2018.