Telehealth Services Now Available at UB Clinics
The University of Bridgeport UB Clinics are now open and offering patients a new option on how they can receive healthcare services.
During a typical year, UB teaching clinics handle over 17,000 patient visits, providing naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, and dental hygiene services to Bridgeport and beyond. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. “We had no alternative but to shut down the clinics in March,” said Janice Faye, clinical services and operations administrator of the College of Health Sciences.
After the forced shutdown, the College of Health Sciences has been working to update and implement policies and procedures to re-deliver healthcare services. “We’ve been closed for three months and we have very loyal patients,” Faye said. “We want to say to the community that we understand what you have been going through and we are here for you.”
The solution is “telemedicine” or “telehealth,” delivered to patients around the world through secure platforms like Microsoft Teams. Healthcare providers have been using the internet for years to communicate with patients, but the current crisis has vastly increased the use of videoconferencing and streaming media. Both rural areas and busy city centers have moved to this groundbreaking practice to counsel patients, check treatment progress, and guide people through home health care. Lab results, x-rays, and photographs can all be shared easily and securely.
Telehealth is better than a phone call in many ways. A patient’s visual appearance is a key component to any health care analysis, allowing a provider to check physical signs and assess nonverbal cues. A visual connection also gives the patient a sense of security and safety to see the person they are talking to, and increases empathy for the caregiver.
UB Clinics have embraced this approach and will use live interactive technology to provide real-time visits between patients and qualified healthcare professionals. “The shutdown forced us to think about the future,” Faye said. “What do we want to be?” Telehealth will offer a way to engage isolated patients and to offer as many services as possible. “This is our way to gear up for a reopening,” Faye added. “It provides an alternative means for staying healthy.”
Although the video technology can be a challenge for some, it can be more convenient for those with travel limitations. It saves time, diminishes exposure, increases safety, and is more secure than cell phones or email. Best of all, there are no waiting rooms. If you make a 3:30 appointment, you will be seen at 3:30.
Now that is technology we can all appreciate.
This change will help UB health sciences students, too. The shutdown has challenged teaching clinics, particularly concerning human interaction. This novel opportunity to engage patients will prevent our students from lagging behind. It will eventually mean a course in Telehealth, because interacting with people through video requires a different set of skills than face-to-face meetings.
“Telehealth will not just be a tool for the current crisis,” said Marcia Prenguber, director of the School of Naturopathic Medicine. “But a strategy for the delivery of health care forever.” Our students’ expertise will be necessary long after COVID-19 is just a bad memory. They will be, as Prenguber stated, “better equipped to incorporate this approach in their own practice.”
For the first 90 days, from June 29 to September 25, 2020, there is no cost to current UB Clinics patients for telehealth services. Book your telehealth or in-person appointment today by calling (203) 576-4349.