Telemedicine has become far more common since the beginning of the pandemic, and Wake Forest Baptist Health now offers immediate virtual care through around-the-clock access to emergency medicine specialists.
The initiative began last year and is called Virtual First. Dr. Alison Gardner is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health and helped launch the initiative. She says it's about helping patients know what to do next, with what urgency, and in some cases, where to go.
“We're seeing all matter of acute illness and injury across the board," she says. "About 70 percent of the time, to date, we're able to provide home-care instructions and when follow-up might be needed. About 20 percent of the time we're saying you should go to the urgent care or follow up with your primary doctor. And then about 10 percent of the time we're saying, nope, you need to go to the emergency department.”
Gardner says they currently see about 60-70 patients per week through immediate virtual care. Patients can access the specialists by phone at 844-WF-TelED (844-938-3533) or by using a myWakeHealth account. Gardner anticipates that this kind of care is here to stay.