Doctors worry people still skipping appointments over COVID-19 fears

Telehealth becoming more common and technology is bridging gap of in-person visits.
Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 2:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - From Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, to the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, the concern over people skipping health screenings and checkups because of COVID-19 fears continue to grow.

Some think doctors’ offices or hospitals can’t be clean enough to go back to making appointments.

Oak Street Health is a network of primary care practices that cater to patient on Medicaid and Medicare.

Dr. Laolu Fayanju is the senior medical director for Oak Street’s Cleveland locations, who said they went from zero telehealth visits to about 90% of all visits being by video or phone since the pandemic began.

“We don’t want folks to lose that personal touch that you need to form with your doctor and your provider, and there are also practical things that need to be done in an in-person doctors visit, or providers visit that we can not do if we’re only connecting with our patients via phone and via video,” Fayanju said “However practices like Oak Street have been able to bridge that gap by providing remote patient monitoring.”

By sending a patient a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeteres that can digitally read a person’s oxygen level, and even glucometers to read blood sugar, a person’s vital measurements can be done remotely.

In a survey by Oak Street Health, 64% of seniors said they will continue use telehealth even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

What can’t happen is people skipping appointments all together.

Dr. Fayanju is also worried about people letting down their guard simply because COVID-19 has been around long enough to be annoying.

“We may be emotionally done with COVID but COVID is not done with us. I think that as the emotional and psychological pressure of restricting our lives continues to build on everyone, that is making a lot of folks think you know I just have to live my life and forget about the consequences.”

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