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Telehealth calls skyrocket at Northeast Ohio hospitals

Find out why doctors say the future of medicine could be changing as we know it.

CLEVELAND — Dr. Brian Zack is a pediatrician as well as the UH Telehealth Director. He says integrating patients into his schedule with a video call is the new normal.

“I can be seeing child for their 5-year-old well care and vaccines and all the other things we do on a normal day and my next patient could be a rash that I see virtually,” says Dr. Zack.

Many Ohioans, like Marilyn Buckholz are choosing to schedule a virtual chat.

“Well, right now I don’t even feel safe going into any medical facility. I don’t even go into stores because I’m a high-risk patient if I were to get the covid,” says Buckholz.

University Hospitals reports an average of 15,000 telehealth calls a year, but recently has seen 57,000 in a month and a total of 86,000 in the last six weeks. MetroHealth sees less than 2,000 telehealth calls a year, that number recently skyrocketed to 42,000 calls in a four-week period. The Cleveland Clinic averages 41,000 telemedicine calls a year, it recently logged more than 60,000 calls in one month.

In addition to saving time driving, parking, and taking off work, Buckholz says it’s a less stressful situation overall.

“This way you can kind of sit down and relax with a cup of coffee, have a list of your questions and have everything answered visually,” says Buckholz.

Doctors don’t expect the telehealth call volume to remain this high once the pandemic slows, however they do say because of its success, telehealth is changing the face of healthcare as we know it.

“I think in the long term that a lot of providers can expect anywhere from 10-30% of their normal visits could be virtual,” says Dr. Zack.

While telemedicine has been a source of help for tens of thousands of people, it’s not meant for medical emergencies. If you need help for a life-threatening situation, call 911.

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