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Health Care Providers Increasingly Turn to Telehealth for COVID-19 Patients

Jackson Health System
Dr. Russ Colombo, a cardiologist at Jackson Health System, uses a telehealth system to communicate virtually with a patient during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackson Health System in Miami has started using telehealth to monitor patients in treatment for COVID-19. Florida's largest public health system wants to monitor many patients at once, while keeping staff safe.

These days, Dr. Russ Colombo, a cardiologist at Jackson Health System, will give a patient who has COVID-19 an update via video call.

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"I just got finished talking to your husband, so I guess we're having two separate Zoom appointments," he says to a patient in a Jackson video. "How are you feeling?" He chats with his patient through a screen, instead of in the room.
Before the pandemic, staff used to watch patients at risk of falling from their bed, for example.

Michael Garcia, Jackson's chief information officer, says now they can make a medical decision without taking the 10 minutes to put on new protective equipment and waste less of it.

"Many times we say look, the patient's not looking too good, let's go ahead and put that ventilator on or whatever we needed to do to save a life," Garcia said.

Human contact is vital in health care, said Dr. Terry Adirim, a professor and dean at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine.

"It's kind of hard to be alone, especially when you're sick and scared," Adirim added.

However, at FAU, a lot can be done virtually, she said.

"Telehealth is here to stay," Adirim explained. "Patients like it, physicians like it and I think we're going to continue to learn different ways to use it, just like Jackson."

Down the line, telehealth might also enable family and friends to virtually visit a COVID-19 patient, too.

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