With financial boost incoming, telemedicine provides opportunity for care during COVID-19 crisis

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This week, the federal communications commission unveiled plans to provide $200 million to boost telemedicine programs. The technology gives doctors the ability to provide care while maintaining social distancing.

For Fresno Internal Medicine Doctor Uma Rao, doing business over the phone is now the safest way to see some patients.

Clovis Pediatrician Amy Evans is using a webcam for virtual visits. Parents are helping her with exams and troubleshooting some minor ailments.

"What's helpful I should mention is I'm seeing the whole family," Dr. Evans said. "So it may be the one kid who calls in for it, but then I'm looking at mother and brother, and they are all coughing in the background, so one virtual visit turns into a visit for all three of them."

Both doctors are getting a lot of patients with concerns over and cough or flu-like symptoms.

"The vast majority we are doing these virtual visits. Although the visits are not the same as in-person, they are effective considering the current crisis."

Doctors say it allows patients to remain home in quarantine while also receiving medical advice.

"Sometimes they'll just call because they have backaches, headaches, and a lot of people are calling in with depression and anxiety because they've just lost their jobs," Dr. Rao said.

During the crisis, insurance companies are stepping up and reimbursing doctors more than normal to see patients virtually or over the phone.

Doctors are hoping through telemedicine, they can cut down on the numbers of people going to emergency rooms so that doctors at hospitals can use their energy, expertise and equipment on the sickest patients.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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