BOSTON (CBS) – In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of virtual doctors’ appointments has skyrocketed.
Between 60 and 70 percent of outpatients at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital are now scheduling telemedicine appointments rather than traditional in-person visits. Before the pandemic, the hospital would see only about 10 virtual patients a day. Now that number is nearly 3,000.
“Telemedicine has, and will no doubt continue to revolutionize healthcare,” said Dr. Melvin Makhni, a spinal surgeon in Brigham and Women’s orthopedic surgery department, where they are now seeing 98 percent of their patients virtually.
“We realize that it works, and we’re able to develop these same relationships with our patients,” he said. “The patients have learned that they’re not as worried about the security issues and conveying their points to their care givers; that they’re able to get appropriate care.”
Dr. Makhni said studies have shown high patient satisfaction rates, citing the convenience and ease of access. There is also an overall cost savings in the healthcare system.
Still, he acknowledges telemedicine is not a perfect solution. There are technology barriers, and some problems that simply need to be seen in-person.
Now that both patients and doctors have been thrust into the world of virtual visits, Dr. Makhni predicts many will opt to continue with telemedicine long after the pandemic is under control.