Adoption of telemedicine has been a controversial subject in urgent care. While some operators have seen its benefits by way of increasing access for patients—and, over the past few months, in reducing risk of COVID-19 transmission—others have expressed concern that patients may “self-diagnose” and demand prescriptions without the benefit of a full examination. Whichever camp you fall into, be aware that even emergency rooms are now experimenting with virtual care. Tenet Health Central Coast in California just announced a new option for patients in which callers are connected to a board-certified emergency physician for advice on whether their concerns warrant a trip to the ED any time, any day. This is important to know not only for awareness of options your prospective patients have, but also so you can reach out to EDs that may be experimenting with telemedicine in your area. If patients don’t need to go to the ED, invite the hospital to refer them to your urgent care center. If they’re willing to do that, odds are they’ll be more likely to refer on-site patients who have presented at busy times with nonemergent complaints.
Take Note: Even Emergency Rooms Are Turning to Telemedicine to Cope with the Pandemic