Longview-area health care organizations are expanding the use of telemedicine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s growing every day,” said Tim Lewis, spokesman for PhyNet, a Longview-based nonprofit health organization that operate eight clinics.
He said telemedicine — connecting patients to doctors remotely through computers and smartphones — received a boost after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a ruling that relaxed its requirements for Medicare recipients.
“In the past six months, we only had a few (telemedicine appointments),” Lewis said. “We’re doing a dozen of them a day now.”
Christus Trinity Clinic has expanded telehealth services and is offering video visits with primary care providers.
“A video visit is a visit with your clinician through your computer or smartphone with video capability and is appropriate for evaluations of most any symptom you have,” said Dr. Andria Cardinalli-Stein, ambulatory chief quality officer, Christus Trinity Clinic in Northeast Texas.
Video and telephone visits are covered by nearly all major medical insurances, according to a statement from the health care system.
Longview Regional Medical Center also offers telemedicine through its clinics.
“Most primary care providers and specialists affiliated with Regional Clinics are already providing telemedicine options for care, including virtual face-to-face consults via computers and mobile devices as well as consultations via telephone and patient portal,” Longview Regional spokeswoman Libby Bryson said in a statement.
Dallas-based Texas Oncology, which operates clinics at 1300 N. Fourth St. in Longview and 402 S. Bolivar St. in Marshall, on Thursday reported a major expansion of its telemedicine services to allow patients to schedule virtual visits with more than 400 physicians and 150 advanced practice providers throughout the statewide cancer care practice.
Through this expanded approach, launched earlier this month, Texas Oncology is conducting more than 500 telemedicine visits per day on average.
Texas Oncology said the telemedicine expansion is critical to safeguarding cancer patients in Texas Oncology’s care. The practice sees more than 55,000 new cancer patients each year. Texas Center for Proton Therapy, Texas Breast Specialists and Texas Urology Specialists, which are part of Texas Oncology, also are participating in the telemedicine initiative.
For information, visit texasoncology.com .
Meanwhile, PhyNet patients may schedule telemedicine appointments with primary care doctors the same day at any of PhyNet’s eight clinics, Lewis said.
“All onset illnesses we are able to treat,” Lewis said. He said patients may not use telemedicine for chronic care or behavioral health.
PhyNet operates clinics in Longview, Kilgore, Gladewater, Tatum, Jefferson, Hughes Springs, Lone Star and Linden.
For information, visit phynetinc.com .