coronavirus

Telemedicine Could Play Bigger Role Against Potential COVID Surge

Virtual care companies are preparing for new demand in COVID-19 testing and potential demand for COVID-19 anti-viral medication yet to be FDA-approved

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The threat of the omicron variant means a possible increase in people looking for telemedicine options, once again. NBC 5 health reporter Bianca Castro reports, virtual care companies are preparing for new demand and the possibility of getting new COVID-19 anti-viral pills to patients quickly.

The threat of the omicron variant means a possible increase in people looking for telemedicine options, once again.

Virtual care companies are preparing for new demand and the possibility of getting new COVID-19 anti-viral pills to patients quickly.

As COVID-19 numbers climbed during the delta surge, so did the demand for telehealth visits at Driven Healthcare of Frisco.

"We've seen a massive increase, probably 200%-300%, over what we would previously have done in the telemedicine space," said Driven Healthcare's Dr. Carrie de Moor.

The demand is expected to rise as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected in both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Telemedicine providers are pivoting for more demand for COVID testing, as the president announced this week, a push for free at-home testing.

"With telemedicine and with a physician who can help guide you through the testing process with home tests, it's going to really improve our access to turnaround time of knowing that you're positive," said de Moor.

Quick test results will be key if the FDA authorizes new COVID-19 antiviral pills, meant to be taken within the first few days of symptoms.

Digital health companies are now working on platforms that would include a virtual visit, prescription and next-day delivery of the new drugs.

They're virtual tools to accompany what doctors still call the number one defense against COVID-19.

"It's definitely not a substitution for prevention and making smart choices with vaccines and social distancing," said de Moor.