Your Doctor Is Calling

Matthew Pombo is demonstrating how to conduct a telehealth visit for knee pain.

illustration of a doctor walking on a cell phone
“You should first make sure the patient is wearing shorts and is at least six feet from their camera. If you suspect a meniscal tear,” he says, “have the patient do a squat on one leg and twist. If they say their knee hurts on one side, you consider the meniscus.” 

Specialists from across Emory, from ortho to ENT to GI, are using their lunch hour to demonstrate to medical colleagues and trainees how best to conduct a telehealth visit because that is the way they are seeing many of their patients these days. 

Emory Healthcare has seen exponential growth in telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 215,000 from mid-March to July. Prior to COVID, Emory Healthcare conducted several telehealth visits per week in only a few specialties. Since mid-March, Emory has been conducting an average of 12,000 telehealth visits per week across 38 specialties. 

Emory Connected Care enables patients to consult with health care providers from their home using technologies such as a webcam or a mobile device with a camera.“The speed and quality in establishing a robust telehealth practice from very few visits a week to around 12,000 per week has been an amazing transformation,” says Gregory Esper, professor of neurology, associate chief medical officer at  Emory Healthcare, and lead for telehealth initiatives. 

During the COVID-19 peak in April, when in-person doctor’s appointments were limited, Emory Healthcare conducted 57% of its visits via telehealth.“ These remarkable achievements, supported by tremendous behind-the-scenes efforts, have allowed our patients to continue seamless care with their health care providers during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Jonathan Lewin, CEO, Emory Healthcare. “While many of our specialty areas are now gradually and safely resuming in-person appointments, telehealth has been an essential offering to patients, and many continue to use this service.”—Janet Christenbury

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