How Providence, Kaiser Permanente, Intermountain are using telehealth to treat patients amid coronavirus outbreak

Hospitals and health systems across the country are asking patients to pick up the phone rather than sit a waiting room if they have fears they might be infected with the coronavirus, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"We don't want them coming into a doctor's office or urgent care or emergency room to sit in a waiting room and potentially infect other patients," said Robert Wyllie, MD, chief of medical operations at Cleveland Clinic, to WSJ.

Patients can call to ask their provider questions, schedule a video visit or use chat boxes to communicate with clinicians prior to coming in for an examination.

At Renton, Wash.-based Providence, clinicians are directing patients to its chatbot, a computer program that is designed to answer questions from patients. The program, which was developed by Provide, also is filled with information on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Additionally, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente has started using telehealth services to care for patients who are quarantined at home. The health system has also issued more laptops to physicians who can conduct visits from their homes at late hours.

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare has begun using video visits for a coronavirus-infected patient. The patient was on the cruise ship Diamond Princess and is now in an isolated room. Nurses are caring for the patient in-person while physicians are treating him via live video stream.

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