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Sharp Rees-Stealy sees 3,900% increase in telehealth appointments

Telehealth call
Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 21:26:07-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group has seen a massive rise in the number of telehealth appointments, even as California eases restrictions on elective treatments.

Two months ago Dr. Edward Greene, Regional Medical Director of South Bay for Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, said he had trouble convincing patients to try virtual visits.

“The problem is getting patients to say, ‘this is an OK thing to do.’”

He estimated he used to conduct up to five Telehealth sessions in a single day.

Now, it’s his entire day.

“My whole schedule is this,” he said.

A spokesperson for Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group said prior to the pandemic they conducted about 60 digital consultations a day.

Now they are conducting more than 2,400 per day, a nearly 4,000% increase.

“I usually like to use these for common colds and follow-ups on depression,” said Dr. Greene. “Lab results are the big one,” he added.

But there are clear limitations, especially in acute situations.

“I had a patient with congestive heart failure. We did a video visit and she was a little short of breath. I said, ‘you gotta call 911,’” Greene recalled.

Depending on insurance, the video sessions can also be expensive as some insurance providers don’t cover telehealth appointments yet.

“Most insurance companies haven’t reimbursed us,” said Greene.