Oregon health officials see increase in virtual visits in midst of COVID-19 concerns

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – With concerns over COVID-19 top of mind, more people are turning to virtual doctor visits–all you need is a smartphone.

Virtual visits are available through most local healthcare systems, including Providence, Legacy and Oregon Health & Science University. The visits are becoming more common with advances in technology.

OHSU says it has had an online option available to patients since the end of 2017 through an app called MyChart. Patients connect with a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant by video using secure technology.

The technology allows providers to take a look at patients and have a live two-way conversation without exposing anyone in a waiting room to whatever the patient might have.

Right now, demand for the virtual visits is high, according to healthcare professionals, but patients can usually get same day appointments. Most insurance policies with cover virtual visits, but even if a patient doesn’t have insurance, the most they will pay out of pocket is $49.

“Because of the COVID19 event, we have seen a big uptick in patients calling our program and accessing services this way, and I feel like this is kind of the ideal situation here where telemedicine can really start to show its value to patients, particularly in an unfortunate situation like this,” Mark Lovgren, director of TeleHealth Services for OHSU, said.

Legacy says it has several GoHealth urgent care clinics across the Portland metro area. Instead of walking inside if you have symptoms, they say to call your nearest center to set up a virtual appointment. They use an app too and say they are also seeing an uptick in demand.

Those virtual appointments are available seven days a week and, just like OHSU, the most it will cost you is $49. Everything goes into your patient chart, just like it would at a regular office visits, according to health officials.

“It’s very easy, quick registration online, downloading the application and you’re connected with a provider within minutes,” David Tep, marketing president at Legacy GoHealth, said.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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