Telemedicine grows in popularity among doctors, but poses challenges for some patients

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Managing pain is Dr. Mark Malone’s specialty. 

COVID-19 has highlighted the level of pain he’s seeing among patients dealing with stress and anxiety. 

He said Advanced Pain Care, which has 11 locations in the state, has seen a 10% increase in new patients.

“We do feel like we need to see our patients and perform a physical exam on every visit,” said Dr. Malone. “It’s impossible to recommend procedures or surgery without seeing a patient in person.”

Though his practice has embraced telemedicine, Dr. Malone said it’s not ideal, especially for patients needing a prescription for medication. 

“It is allowed… by the Medical Board just for this special circumstance, but it is not recommended,” explained Dr. Malone who also pointed out they don’t prescribe medications over telemedicine for new patients. 

According to a Morning Consult poll, one-in-four Americans used telemedicine for the first time between the beginning of March to the end of June. The company said the most common concern about telemedicine is the quality of care provided and whether insurance providers will cover it.

Dr. Malone said his team is seeing about 500 patients in person a day. He explained the key has been the safety measures in place, including screening patients, social distancing and requiring all staff to wear masks and gloves. 

“It tells me that we did the right thing by staying open, and I encourage other businesses to stay open,” explained Dr. Malone. “We’ve only had six employees out of 360 test positive. None of them became seriously ill.”

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