Instead of in-person visits, teleconference technology can offer physicians a birds-eye-view of COVID-19 in the community.
Using technology developed to treat people in remote areas, emergency medicine physician, Dr Tobias Khare has been using telemedicine to screen patients who may be just blocks away from his North Side immediate care clinic.
On a recent day of care, Khare’s patients agreed to let WGN News capture their appointments during the virtual visit.
Khare asked patients about temperature, travel, shortness of breath, etc.
“At this time on this date, we are seeing a lot of worry,” he told WGN News. “But we also know the trajectory of this virus, based on other countries. So I see the tidal wave. We all see it.”
If Khare decides a patient needs testing, he has kits in-house, tubes and swabs. Some of his supply came from the Illinois Dept of Public Health, others from Quest Diagnostics, the outside lab he regularly uses for routine lab work. And he was able to scrape up a few dozen more from fellow doctors around the city.
Right now he has about 40 tests left for those with insurance who may not qualify through the health department.
“Because if we get our test from a private institution, we can run this test through and private insurance pays,” he said. “And I can be less selective about the patients I test. And I think that’s important because some people have high fevers going on for three days but they don’t know if they have been exposed.”
But there has been a common prescription for the majority of patients he’s evaluated.
“Reassurance,” Khare said. ‘We reassure people that they are going to be ok.”
Khare has performed 110 screenings since last Thursday. So far, he’s ordered testing for 10 of those patients. All have come back negative.