Telehealth gaining popularity during coronavirus pandemic

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – More people are turning to telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before COVID-19 hit Tennessee, Vanderbilt University Medical Center said they averaged about 10 telehealth visits a day. Now it’s skyrocketed to around 2,000 in a day.

“Honestly, as a working mom, I loved it,” Hope Blackman, a parent said.

Before last week, Hope Blackman had never used telehealth. Since then, both of her children spoke with a doctor online.

It doesn’t surprise her more people are using the technology for their appointments.

“As a parent who has stayed home, I didn’t want to risk my child’s health going downtown and so to have this was a lifesaver,” Blackman said.

At VUMC, the overwhelming demand required planning. The hospital already had the online platform, but needed to train more doctors and nurse practitioners on how to use it.

“I definitely think that the pandemic has been a game changer for telehealth,” Amber Humphrey, VUMC Director of Telehealth said.

Humphrey said it’s typically used for behavioral health, follow ups with doctors if you need a medication refill, and pediatric visits.

“Patients are comfortable with this technology and they have embraced it,” Humphrey said.

Since March, Humphrey said they’ve done 80,000 telehealth visits. For the entire year of 2019, it was 10,000.

“If you can use a laptop, then you can do it. I mean it was just a lot easier than I really anticipated it being,” Blackman said.

Unless there’s an emergency, Blackman plans on using telehealth for any future appointments for her kids.