Telehealth bridges gaps in care to provide patient-focused access


Telehealth has leapt to the forefront of healthcare for patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth visits increased by 50 percent in January through March 2020 when compared to the same weeks just a year earlier. That percentage surged to 154 percent the last week in March when compared to the same week in 2019. 

“What we can do now is leaps and bounds better than what we could’ve done five years ago,” said Dr. David McSwain, Chief Medical Information Officer at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Caring for patients in a different way than providers have in the past has been the defining factor in the evolution of healthcare. Telehealth is a diverse tool that advances access to quality healthcare. When talking about patient-focused care, telehealth is the use of two-way telecommunications technologies to provide clinical health care through a variety of remote methods.  

During the pandemic, MUSC and others have expanded remote patient monitoring for patients who were affected by COVID-19. 

"They did not waste any time,” said Sandra Epps, an MUSC patient. “They contacted me immediately; they reassured me that somebody was there and could help. It was good to know they were there."

For patients living in rural South Carolina, telehealth can save precious time and money by providing the option to see a specialist at a local care center. And, for patients experiencing more serious care needs, such as stroke, telehealth has real applications that can save lives, according to healthcare professionals. At a time when many fear doing in-person visits due to a pandemic, Telehealth offers them a quality healthcare alternative.

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