Patients concerned about coronavirus (COVID-19) can now be screened for the virus without ever having to leave home, thanks to a new telehealth platform from Augusta University Health System.
Through Augusta University Health System COVID-19 Virtual Screening, patients can now receive free virtual screenings for coronavirus (COVID-19), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no appointment required, when they visit the AU Health COVID-19 Virtual Screening website or download the AU Health Express Care app for Apple or Android devices.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we want to make sure that patients who are high risk for the disease are screened and evaluated in a way that avoids possible transmission to others,” said Dr. Richard Schwartz, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “Using the online platform for a quick telemedicine visit will direct patients who need testing to the most appropriate location for further evaluation or treatment; a practice essential for avoiding unnecessary spread of the illness.”
In addition to making physician visits safer for patients, screening provided remotely could slow the spread of the virus by keeping a larger portion of patients out of emergency and prompt care facilities and allow for more efficient care delivery.
“This is why we’re here,” said Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD. “It’s times like these that we, as the state’s academic medical center, step up and lead, and right now that means finding new and innovative ways to screen patients without having them physically present in our facility. As we see more cases of respiratory illness, it’s important that we meet our patients where they are. Treating patients in their homes makes sense for a lot of reasons, but especially now, when our priority is limiting additional illness exposure and spread.”
During the virtual screening, the provider will ask about common symptoms of infection and duration, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, as well as questions related to medical history and risk of virus exposure. Patients who screen positive will be directed on appropriate next steps, which could include visiting the hospital for further testing. Those who test negative will be provided their visit summary and directed to an appropriate care site for further evaluation and treatment.
“This technology is pivotal to appropriate early intervention to better treat and prevent the spread of illness, especially when health care systems have the potential to become overwhelmed,” said Augusta University Health CEO Katrina Keefer. “Virtual visits not only reduce the spread of illness but help to ensure the availability of medical supplies and facilities for critically ill patients in need of specialized care.”
For more information, visit Augusta University’s virtual screening resource page.