Since April, telehealth appointments have gone from about 200 visits per day to 2,000 a day at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

What You Need To Know

  • Telehealth appointments have gone from about 200 visits per day to 2,000 a day at URMC
  • Since March 1, UR Medicine providers have conducted about 190,000 telehealth visits
  • The My Chart health portal is being updated to make telehealth more accessible

"I think we're just beginning to scratch the surface of what's possible,” says Dr. Ray Dorsey, URMC Center for Health and Technology director, professor of Neurology for Health and Technology.

He teams with other URMC medical leaders to talk about what has been learned in the last few months about the possibilities of telehealth. 

"I think historically that health care's been considered local. Certainly it can be regional, and now many states have removed the barriers to state licensing laws, at least temporarily, so you're going to be able to see people all over the region, all over the country, be able to benefit from some of the specialists and primary care physicians that are at the University of Rochester," Dr. Dorsey says.

URMC says the use of telemedicine has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and experts believe it will have a lasting impact on patient care in the future.

"We definitely think this is going to be a big part in the way we practice primary care now and into the future," adds Dr. Greg Nicandri, URMC, associate professor of Orthopedics, chief medical information officer.

Through the use of technology, patients can access care without a face-to-face visit.

"Continued use of telemedicine and importantly, continued payment by insurers for telemedicine, is not going to only give our established patients more convenient care, but we really hope it will enable us to open access to people who have traditionally not had personal physicians or primary care practitioners before," Dr. Nicandri says.

Since March 1, UR Medicine providers have conducted about 190,000 telehealth visits, many via Zoom.

"One of the things that I've seen an uptick in recently is, now that people know we have telemedicine available, they actually take the opportunity to get a second opinion," says Dr. Wallace Johnson, UR Medicine Primary Care Network, professor of Medicine.

Some of the telehealth challenges include the ability of patients to understand technology and access to that technology, but the experts are tweaking the process.

"We think with a little bit of an extension of technology into the community so that people can measure their own blood pressures, heart rates, weights, oxygen levels, we'll be able to take care of a much broader segment of the population as well," says Dr. Nicandri.

Experts say telehealth makes it possible to reach many people who've had limited access to health care.

"We're in the midst of the greatest transformation in health care in my lifetime. We've had a greater change in health care in the last two months than we have in the previous two generations," Dr. Dorsey adds.

The My Chart health portal is being updated to make telehealth more accessible.