Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Telehealth Visits Surge at University of Florida Health
As the COVID-19 virus began making an indelible mark on everyday life, a group of University of Florida (UF) Health leaders wrestled with an urgent issue: how to provide medical and dental visits while protecting patients and providers.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the COVID-19 virus began making an indelible mark on everyday life, a group of University of Florida (UF) Health leaders wrestled with an urgent issue: how to provide medical and dental visits while protecting patients and providers.
On March 12, UF Health providers conducted 20 telehealth visits. By April 16, the daily count was 1,497 visits — a 7,385% increase. Today, almost every UF Health practice has a telehealth component. A telehealth program for the College of Veterinary Medicine is being developed.
As COVID-19 became more pervasive, a telehealth task force of 17 people was marshaled by Marvin A. Dewar, MD, JD, CEO and chief medical officer of UF Health Physicians and a senior associate dean of the UF College of Medicine.
Clarry and his colleagues jumped in, connecting about 1,300 UF Health providers to a secure Zoom videoconferencing platform and getting them trained to use it. They equipped every practice site for telehealth visits, set up a telehealth help desk and worked through patient scheduling issues. When social distancing took hold, Clarry’s team worked through the logistics of setting up providers to do telehealth visits from home.
Across UF Health, providers have found new ways to leverage telehealth. Dental patients can get emergency assessments for conditions such as tooth or mouth pain due to an abscess or large caries. The teledentistry effort, fast-tracked as part of the college’s COVID-19 response and introduced on March 26, is now serving the community at large.
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