Healthcare turns to telehealth to provide safe alternative
By Dannielle Konz
MARSHFIELD – With all of the uncertainty that continues to surround the COVID-19 pandemic and where we go from here now that Wisconsin is opening back up, healthcare is turning to telehealth as a safer alternative to in-person appointments. Previously, telehealth was an option primarily for specialty care and rural communities. Now, however, online appointments will be much more available to the general community due to the pandemic.
While the pandemic has been a challenge for all, the Marshfield Health System has found a benefit, in that they have been able to implement telehealth into more areas of healthcare, generating more options for patients to get the care that they need.
Tammy Simon, vice president of Marshfield Clinic’s Institute for Quality, Innovation and Patient Safety, said that going forward, patients should expect telehealth to be used for those who have limited time due to work, family or scheduling challenges, as well as for patients who have difficulty traveling. Telehealth will now be an additional option for all, not just in extenuating circumstances.
While this has been a difficult time for the Health System, Simon said, “We never want to say ‘no’ to a patient, no matter how minor their question or ailment might be, and we’re proud that we were able to ramp up our telehealth program to ensure we don’t say ‘no.’”
With challenges come solutions, and Marshfield Health System has been able to implement solutions that will help patients get care in all circumstances.
In addition to the increased use of telehealth, patients can expect to see changes to in-person appointments.
Simon made it clear that patient safety is the largest driving force in these changes, “Our patients expect to receive the highest quality care possible, and receive it in a safe environment, which is even more vital in today’s COVID-19 world.”
Simon also outlined the safeguards being put in place for patients that will include patient and employee screening at all designated entrances, masking requirements, social distancing measures in waiting rooms, patient rooming as quickly as possible and frequent cleaning, including enhanced cleaning for high traffic areas. These measures should increase the safety of patients and employees alike so that all can get the care that they need.
Patients can also expect increased reopening of previously closed medical practices as well as additional options for appointments, including telehealth.
While COVID-19 has been difficult and is not going away any time soon, Simon said, “Most of all, (the pandemic) demonstrated the leadership and resolve of our frontline healthcare workers. This was a challenging time for them, and they helped us prepare for and treat COVID-19 patients in difficult circumstances. I couldn’t be prouder how they adjusted to the ever-changing situation and the outstanding care they provided to patients.”
The Marshfield Health System will strive for that quality patient care and increased use of telehealth, as they look out for patients and employees alike.