A telehealth company says it has provided a record number of visits to influenza patients and the technology could provide relief for an overburdened healthcare system. Teladoc Inc has provided more than 300,000 total visits to flu patients in the past five weeks across the US.
Infectious disease experts are actively encouraging patients to stay home and seek care and are asking physicians to consider telemedicine visits for the flu to increase patient access, according to Teledoc. The company believes telemedicine is as effective if not more effective than in-person care for treating the flu.
“We’ve actually seen the flu being under-diagnosed this year, in part because of the reliance on the use of the flu test. The flu must be diagnosed from the presenting symptoms, making telehealth a very effective approach to care,” explained Charlotte-Paige Rolle, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease specialist. “It is especially important to receive a correct diagnosis this year since the strain that is most prevalent now, H3N2, has viral attributes that make it more aggressive and has led to high mortality.”
With the combination of the severe flu season, an overtaxed health system, and growing awareness of the value of telehealth, Teladoc has seen a significant spike in volume since the start of flu season.
At its peak in January, Teladoc reported that influenza cases represented nearly 1 in 5 visits, vs the 1 in 15 that was reported at physician practices by Modern Healthcare. Teladoc’s volume of flu cases has more than doubled since the 2016 -2017 flu season. The company often treats more than 1,000 patients daily who are suffering from flu related illnesses.
More information is available on the company’s website.