Telemedicine consults spiked during polar vortex

Telemedicine rates rose when temperatures plummeted during the polar vortex in late January, according to a report by WOOD-TV, the local NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

MedNow, the telemedicine arm of Spectrum Health, saw an increase in patients over a span of just a few days. MedNow saw 90 patients on the morning of Jan. 30 alone, when temperatures were at their lowest. From Jan. 28 to Jan. 30, the company's physicians saw more than 300 patients on its platform, which allows patients to talk with a physician face to face without leaving home.

The rise in telehealth use underscores the ways in which the service can be used to reach people where they are. According to Spectrum, the telehealth services saved patients from commuting 2,250 miles.

"You have the opportunity to be seen in the comfort of your own home. Everyone is telling us to stay inside and this allows to you to receive the care you need but still remain inside,” Joe Brennan, the senior director of MedNow, told WOOD-TV.

“It’s situations like this where it’s apparent telehealth is the most convenient way to access care,” he said.

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