With Hurricane Florence landing in the Southeast US, telemedicine companies have pledged to provide service to citizens affected by the event. The once category 4 storm has been downgraded to a category 1, however meteorologists still advise residents to prepare for catastrophic flash flooding. Officials hope that telehealth will be able to benefit those affected by the storm as it has in previous hurricanes.
During last years hurricane season, telehealth companies were able to analyze the needs of citizens before, during, and after storms and provide personalized medical advice for each patient. In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Florida and Texas governors have also lifted preexisting rules on interstate health care, allowing doctors to provide care to patients in different states.
One telehealth service, Doctor On Demand, claims it will offer free virtual appointments to any person harmed by Florence until the September 30th, using the promo code “FLORENCE2018”. These services will not only cover expected conditions such as sprains, spasms and back pain, but it will cover emotional issues like depression and anxiety as well. A similar telehealth company, MDLive, has also pledged to provide free virtual evaluations for Florence victims. MDLive users can use the code “Florence” to redeem their free services.
“One of telehealth’s biggest powers is its ability to beam care instantly to where its most needed. Often this ‘superpower’ is used for convenience, but when a disaster strikes, like Hurricanes in the southeast, a flood in Houston or area fires in California, telehealth can mean the difference between being stranded and getting the care you need,” Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO of telehealth company American Well, said. “We are proud to bring healthcare to patients when forces of nature prevent regular access.”
American Well has announced that several of its payment and provider clients are offering free visits to citizens residing in harshly affected regions. Tethered to American Well, Blue Cross Anthem will be offering free consultations through mid-December as well. UNC’s Health Care department is getting involved in the telehealth effort also, giving free service to patients through this weekend.
These telehealth services stride to provide patient care to those who need it most, when they need it. This not only helps those impacted by Florence but provides an opportunity for these companies to reach new clients as well. With telemedicine on the rise, free consultations to storm victims could potentially surge the use of these services in the future.
Advancing at 6 MPH, Florence is predicted to bring 20-30 inches of water to areas in the Carolinas and Virginia, with up to 10 inches in inland regions. Ken Graham, director of Miami’s National Hurricane Center, claims that 25% of deaths from storms arises from inland flooding, and that Florence may bring heavy rain to western states as far as Kentucky.
“It won’t be until Sunday until we kick Florence out,” said Graham. “And then even after it’s gone, back behind it in its wake there’s going to be dangerous flooding.”
Hurricane-affected residents can opt into free #telehealth services “Virtual telephone or video care will be available to hurricane-affected residents at no cost, with some offers lasting for several weeks.” via @MobiHealthNews https://t.co/DOUz9QDBOD #Florence #healthcare
— Arizona Telemedicine Program (@UA_ATP) September 14, 2018