Kelowna physician Dr. Richard van der Ross said his clinic uses the CloudMD platform, which helps him see patients without them having to come into the clinic. (Contributed)

Telemedicine to help Okanagan residents amid coronavirus outbreak

The online platform allows patients to see doctors from their own homes

Finding the time to see your doctor can be difficult or there could be an off chance that you’re too sick to even go see your family practitioner.

That’s where telemedicine comes in. Platforms like CloudMD help patients get the consultation they need from the comfort of their own home.

Kelowna family doctor Richard van der Ross said it doesn’t replace an in-person examination, but it does make physicians more accessible to residents who otherwise may not be able to see one.

“It’s really difficult to get an appointment, especially in our setting in the Okanagan. We’ve got very few doctors,” he said.

While the main goal is to improve access to doctors, van der Ross said telemedicine is also handy in cases where there is a flu outbreak, such as the COVID-19.

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He added people who suspect they have coronavirus infection symptoms want to have an assessment, which is made easier through telemedicine.

“You can do the video consultation or an assessment over the phone and tell the patient ‘that’s dangerous, that requires somebody to go to the hospital’ or ‘you can stay home’,” he said.

“We want to prevent the spread of any kind of influenza, coronavirus or any kind of respiratory infection. People are very unsure of what to do, but if we can help them through telemedicine, all the better.”

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. Van der Ross said if you think you have pneumonia, that may be a coronavirus infection.

Authorities are asking people to postpone travels so as not to contract and spread the infection. If you think you’ve contracted COVID-19, call your local health authority or 811.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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