In the wake of shutdowns and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has risen to become a popular option for local medical practices.

At Georgia Urology, telemedicine has been the go-to option for meetings with patients who are in need of a visit or routine check-up.

“Georgia Urology wants to provide the highest quality level of care and we thought that telemedicine would be the best way to continue to ensure this,” said Dr. Carl Capelouto of Georgia Urology’s Canton and Woodstock locations.

Televisits at Georgia Urology, which are reimbursed by insurance companies, can be conducted through a phone, laptop or desktop as long as a camera is attached. Patients can use the ExamMedd app via a smartphone for the televisit, but it is not required.

“Once the patient calls Georgia Urology to set up a telemedicine appointment, a link will be sent via email that the patient will click on, which will take them to the website that will allow them to connect to us via telemedicine,” Dr. Capelouto said. “This has become very useful because this allows us to see many of our patients who are children and adults of all ages who either live or don’t live in the area. So far this practice has been very well received from patients.”

Dr. Capelouto mentioned that he recently dealt with a patient who was dealing with a kidney stone. He said that he was able to see him via a televisit within 24 hours of his emergency room visit, showing the patient his X-rays, identifying the location of the stone and scheduling surgery to deal with the kidney stone.

Dr. Capelouto believes that telemedicine could change how medicine and care are delivered going forward, stating that eventually over half of his practice’s patients could be seen via telemedicine.

Laura Kandilakis, Marketing Director at Georgia Urology, added to Dr. Capelouto’s statement, saying that telemedicine is much more cost effective and could save patients who aren’t in serious condition money by not going to the emergency room or urgent care center.

Atlanta Allergy and Asthma has also put a big emphasis on telemedicine, encouraging patients who aren’t seriously ill to use this method.

Dr. Erinn Gardner of Atlanta Allergy and Asthma’s Canton and Douglasville locations said that the transition to telemedicine has been smooth, with Canton and many of the other offices becoming almost a virtual office thanks to the ease and simplicity of both setting up an appointment, as well as conducting one.

“Patients call one of our locations to set up an appointment for a sick visit, follow-up, etc. and the nurse will contact them to discuss medications that the patient is taking, past medical history and concerns about anything health related,” Dr. Gardner said. “We will give instructions on the televisit to patients when they set up an appointment and we suggest talking with centralized scheduling so they can walk the patient through the process of scheduling a televisit.”

Dr. Gardner said that televisits are also being used for new patients with allergy and asthma symptoms due to high pollen counts. Medications can be refilled and sent to the pharmacy, she said.

“It’s not just COVID-19 now that we have to worry about, but allergy and asthma symptoms as well so these televisits are very important because it let’s us decrease patient traffic in our office, while also helping those in need with allergies. I feel like patients who need to come to our Canton office or any other office can feel safe because the only people who are here are the ones who absolutely need to be there.”

She added that another positive of telemedicine is that, like office visits to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma locations, telemedicine meetings are also less expensive than a visit to the emergency room or urgent care center. She said that many insurance companies are now waiving co-pays during the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage televisits, meaning the out of pocket cost is less.

“Telemedicine also lifts the burden on urgent care centers and emergency rooms,” Dr. Gardner said. “We can help people who are ill or suffering from seasonal allergies, which keeps them from going to an urgent care facility which could potentially expose them to more illness. This also decreases the amount of patients in urgent care so they can focus on patients who can’t be helped over the phone.”

Dr. Gardner added that feedback from patients who have participated in a televisit has been positive and that telemedicine is likely something that will continue once the pandemic has passed.

Northside Hospital Cherokee recently made available important to know items, as well as a list of Northside Network Providers. The list of important items to know is as follows:

  • At this time, Northside offices remain open for patient needs as they may arise. Staff will advise patients of any changes to their schedule.

  • The staff are taking extra precautions and have enhanced the consistent cleaning of lobbies, exam rooms, and other common areas.

  • Phone and check-in screening processes help to proactively identify potentially infected patients.

  • If a person currently feel ill, please call to reschedule his/her appointment.

  • If a person has recently traveled to areas with ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19, and develops a fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel, or if he/she has had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, please stay home and call his/her primary care physician for further instructions.

List of Northside Networks:

Atlanta Gynecological Oncology - 770-721-9400

Cherokee Breast Care - 770-721-9660

Northside Heart - 470-639-6250 (Canton) - 770-924-5095 (Woodstock)

Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Inst - 404-962-6000

Spectrum Neurosurgical Specialists - 770-721-9540

North GA OB/GYN - 770-721-9420

Arthritis &Total Joint Specialists - 770-292-6500

Northside Cherokee Pediatrics - 770-852-7720 (Canton) 678-388-5485 (Woodstock)

Medical Associates of North GA/Primary Care - 770-479-5535 (Canton) 770-721-9520 (Cherokee)

Medical Associates of North GA/Rheumatology - 770-721-9630 (Canton) 770-852-7790 (Woodstock)

Northside Family Practice - 770-517-2145

Northside Medical Associates - 770-704-9499

Perimeter North Medical Associates - 770-592-2300

Northside Orthopedic Institute/Sports Medicine - 770-517-6636

Towne Lake Primary Care - 770-445-0819

Cherokee Lung & Sleep - 678-493-2527 (Canton) 678-852-7740 (Woodstock)

Northside Cherokee Surgical Associates - 770-924-9656

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Ethan is a reporter covering the cities of Holly Springs & Canton. He also covers city governments and lifestyle. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.

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