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Expanding access to telehealth

Written By: Melissa McDonald, UT Physicians | Updated: March 31, 2020

With demand for health care at an all-time high, telehealth has become a vital lifeline to communicate with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with InTouch Health, UT Physicians launched a virtual platform which allows video and audio communications with a health care provider. This convenient virtual care option is designed to meet the needs of our patients wherever they are.

Telehealth expands to meet community needs

“This public health crisis is clearly a turning point for virtual health,” said Sahar M. Qashqai, executive director of Healthcare Transformation Initiatives at UT Physicians. “UT Physicians health care providers are extremely dedicated to ensuring our patients receive exceptional care. The moment we realized patients would be challenged to receive their care in person, we knew UT Physicians needed to adopt a different model for delivering care. The UT Physicians telemedicine team, in partnership with InTouch Health, worked day and night to connect each of our providers to a virtual care delivery option. Now, as a result of this team’s hard work, patients will be able to receive care from UT Physicians directly through their phone or computer.”

By providing this easy-to-operate option of care, we can help contain the spread of COVID-19, as well help shield our patients who fall into the high-risk categories.

Matthew Harting, MD, pediatric surgeon with UT Physicians, is an advocate for telemedicine and caring for patients during this critical time. “Amidst this challenge lies opportunity. Virtual care appointments provide many benefits – it’s convenient, follows the rules of social distancing, allows quarantined patients to receive care, and is critical for forward triage in a pandemic situation,” notes Harting, an assistant professor of pediatric surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, the clinical practice of UT Physicians.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the use of alternative care. Nearly 80% of patients experience mild symptoms that can be managed at home through virtual visits. By freeing up our staff and facilities, we are not only practicing safety, but efficiency in a time when that is also a great need.

“Virtual care is the right way for us to interact in this moment. Due to the foresight and dedication of the UT Physicians telemedicine team, we are prepared to meet the needs of our patients, wherever they may be,” said Harting.

“UT Physicians is thankful InTouch Health was able to pull resources together quickly and work diligently to launch our telemedicine program,” said Qashqai.

To schedule a virtual health visit with a provider, call the UT Physicians Nurse Help Line at 713-486-8876 (hold times may be longer due to COVID-19 pandemic).

Learn more about the UT Physicians telehealth program.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.