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Virtual doctor's visits increasing in popularity amid COVID-19

Telehealth and teletherapy are being used remotely
Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 19:31:57-04

OMAHA, Neb. — COVID-19 has changed how we do our day to day activities. Everything from how we grocery shop, how we work and now how we see the doctor. Virtual telehealth services are becoming more accessible and more convenient.

To minimize exposure and continue service, health providers and insurance companies are teaming up so that a lot of doctor's visits can be done over the phone.

"Actually our greatest hurdle was in the past, before the pandemic, most insurance companies were not reimbursing for virtual visits or telehealth visits," CHI Health family physician Dr. Michael Schooff said.

Now insurance companies, like Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska, are expanding their telehealth capabilities, even waiving co-pays.

"So if you went into your doctor's office you might have a co-pay of whatever amount of money that it would be. That's going to be waived for telehealth services during this pandemic crisis," Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska medical director of medical policy Dr. William McDonnell said.

These virtual visits are a great way to check up on things like a cold, rash or fever. Teletherapy - over the phone mental health services - are just as useful.

Medical professionals believe the pandemic sped up technology and how we utilize these services, saying it could be the way of the future.

"I think it sped things up and I am hopeful. I do believe that it's something that then we'll be able to continue beyond the pandemic," Dr. Schooff said.

While these virtual visits are great for checking out symptoms that don't need immediate assistance, those with more severe symptoms that can't be treated virtually, should still visit an urgent care or emergency room.

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