Ascension boosts virtual visits for non-coronavirus patients during pandemic

Posted at 7:02 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 08:02:34-04

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed day-to-day job duties for people across the world.

That includes doctors who must continue to treat non-coronavirus patients.

Dr. Dirk Steinert, a physician at Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin, acts as the health system's Medical Director of Quality for Specialty Care.

His job has long-entailed home visits to patients ranging in age from children to senior citizens in assisted living facilities.

But during the pandemic, Ascension has increasingly utilized telemedicine - or online, video consultations with patients - to take the place of in-clinic visits.

Ascension said there were more than 107,000 such appointments between March 17 to June 1 of this year.

"How does that compare to the same time period in 2019 or 2018?" asked TMJ4 News.

"It's 1,000x more," Steinert said.

He noted that Ascension had been using and developing its telemedicine program for the last five years, but not to the magnitude it has been recently.

"The COVID pandemic increased our desire and need, and kind of pushed us into where we knew we were going to be heading anyway," Steinert said.

According to Steinert, there were several reasons doctors had not been using telehealth as much before the pandemic, including their comfort level with the video consultations, the patients' comfort level with the system, the technology needed to make the appointments happen, and the reimbursement from insurance companies and governments.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip