Telehealth Replaces Many In-Person Appointments

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more people to use telehealth visits, rather than in-person appointments, for non-emergency medical advice. 

“Almost anything that you can think of, I have seen over the past couple of years,” said Dr. Anna Schroeder.

She has provided care via Texas Health Aetna’s Anytime-MD app, which allows Texas Health Aetna members to text or video chat with a local physician 24-7 since it launched in 2017.

As with traditional, in-person appointments, it’s helpful to have medical history and medication information ready before chatting with a doctor using the app, and have specific questions prepared to ask the doctor, Schroeder said.

“We do see kids and adults so we get a full spectrum of complaints from the very minor – like, ‘I have a rash,’ or, ‘I got a splinter,’ ‘does this need stitches?’ – all the way up to, ‘Hey, my kid’s belly is hurting, and I’m worried that they might have appendicitis,’” she said. “We can do everything from resolving it over text by calling in a prescription or direct them to the emergency room if that’s what they need.”

“We can do everything from resolving it over text by calling in a prescription or direct them to the emergency room if that’s what they need.”

Dr. Ann Schroeder
Dr. Ann Schroeder

Schroeder added that, aside from medical emergencies, it’s usually appropriate to start with a telehealth visit. Doctors can then direct patients to a higher level of care for issues that can’t be resolved during the telehealth visit.

Schroeder said since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area in March, she’s seen many questions about the virus, such as when it’s necessary to quarantine or get a test.

With students back in school and the intersection of COVID-19 with flu season, she said it’s essential to get a flu shot this year.

“The single most important thing that parents can do for their kids this winter, and for their families, is to get their flu shot. We expect to see a lot of flu, and we expect to get a lot of COVID, and if we can limit the amount of flu cases that we’re seeing, that really lets us concentrate our efforts on treating the COVID patients,” Schroeder said. 

She said the COVID-19 pandemic also makes it critical for those who feel ill to stay home and keep children who feel sick home as well.

“In the era of COVID, we just have to be a little more cautious than we have been,” Schroeder said. 

For families, she also encouraged outdoor activities and keeping children masked when interacting with other children outside the household indoors.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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