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Flu Activity Means Telehealth Visits Up At Some Hospitals

Legislators passed a bill in 2016 that gives Hoosiers access to telemedicine.

The recent spike in flu activity is leading to an increase in telehealth visits for some healthcare providers. The virtual appointments reduce the risk of exposure for patients and physicians.

Franciscan Health in Indianapolis says this year’s aggressive flu is causing major problems for patients with existing medical conditions, like heart or lung disease. Brenda Schoenherr is the Administrative Director of Home Health and Hospice for Franciscan’s Visiting Nurse Service Home Care. She says more patients are taking advantage of online appointments because of the flu spike.

“Since we are increasing the number of patients that have medical conditions, primarily heart and lung, our telehealth utilization has increased probably about 20 to 30 patients,” she says.

Indiana legislators passed a bill in 2016 that allows doctors to conduct exams through video conference, and even give prescriptions.

Schoenherr says overall admissions to the hospital are up as a result of the flu, too. The hospital implemented restrictions for visitors in December to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The Indiana State Department of Health says 107 people have died from the flu so far this season.

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