Amid COVID19 Outbreak, Telemedicine Services Used More Than Ever Before

Written by on March 18, 2020

Amid COVID19 Outbreak, Telemedicine Services Used More Than Ever Before

By K.C. Lopez

March 18, 2020

Photo| Courtesy of St. Luke’s University Health Network via K.C. Lopez / WLVR

Telemedicine companies across the country are reporting unprecedented volumes of patients wanting to use their remotely accessible services. Health officials are encouraging patients with suspected coronavirus symptoms to audio or video call rather than possibly infect others by physically visiting a doctor’s office or emergency room. 

WLVR’s K.C. Lopez reports in the Lehigh Valley, St. Luke’s University Health Network is advising the same. 

Dr. James Balshi, Cheif Medical Information Officer at St. Luke’s University Health Network says they’re seeing thousands of patients with seasonal flu –and that’s already putting a strain on emergency rooms.

That’s part of the reason they want people to use telemedicine for potential coronavirus cases.

“What we want to do is really assure patients that don’t need to be at an urgent care or in an emergency room around other sick patients, to stay home. And this is truly the major benefit of any technology whether it’s a phone call, an online screening tool,” said Balshi.

Balshi says where the staff is experiencing an uptick in virtual evaluations. But  Balshi says, in a situation like this, that’s a good thing.

“We’ve been trying to follow the CDC guidelines and get a general level of calm; both within our employee group and within our patients. We’ve had a lot of contact with patients calling into the organization. We’ve had people that are utilizing our technology for televisits that’s been available for years now,” said Balshi.

Video visits with St. Luke’s doctors typically see as many as three hundred patients each month; treating colds, coughs, allergies, infections and the flu. But now, their coronavirus helpline received over a thousand phone calls over the weekend. Doctors are virtually connecting with patients and screening for COVID19.

K.C.’s full PBS39 News Tonight Report.

For more information about St. Luke’s hotline for Coronavirus Inquiries, visit the health system’s website. 

For a full list of our reports and resources, visit and keep up with the latest news on this situation on our Live Blog.


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