NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Like many other things during the coronavirus pandemic, health care has gone virtual.

Even for 16-year-old Tyler Stevens, getting a check-up by teleconference was weird, but not difficult.

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“It was very different and a little bit strange at first,” he said. “They just asked, can feel your neck, tell me if your lymph nodes are a little bit inflamed.”

Telemedicine is booming in the age of COVID-19.

A new Axios poll says 22% have spoken to a health care provider by phone and 13% more by video chat.


“We are trying to do at Upswing, and we’re making the whole service free, is we’re trying to help people stay away from the emergency room, urgent care centers, family doctors offices,” said Dr. Jay Kimmel, president of Upswing Health.

Kimmel says teleconferencing answers the question, do I have to see a doctor?

“If you can walk on it, a lot of times you actually don’t need to go to the emergency room,” he said.

And what if a teleconference determines that you need immediate care?

“If you cut your finger with a knife while you’re cooking at home and you need stitches … and then if needed, come over to your house and put those stitches in,” said Dr. Sachin Nagrani, the medical director of Heal.

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Heal provides teleconferencing and, if necessary, home visits.

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“The idea of a doctor taking the old doctor bag, a woman or a man, now it sounds like something out of the past,” CBS2’s Dick Brennan said.

“That’s spot on. Several decades ago, approaching half of doctor’s visits were in patients’ homes, and over the course of the ensuing five decades, it dropped to less than 1%,” Nagrani said.

That’s taken the pressure off of Heal patient Ed Chateau, of Garden City, who cares for his two elderly parents.

“My dad’s gonna be 95 in a week and my mom is 93,” he said.

Getting home care proved potentially life-saving.

“My mom had a swollen ankle and when the nurse came, she determined that she thought it was blood clot,” Chateau said.

“There’s never gonna be a substitute for coming into the office … but a lot of routine things can absolutely be done via teleconference,” Kimmel said.

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Meaning changes in health care are a virtual certainty.