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WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

Telehealth Services Offer Some Surprising Advantages. OH Really?

a photo illustration of a telehealth visit
The coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in seeking virtual appointments for health care, which could have a significant impact on the industry.

Businesses in Ohio are re-opening and schools are making plans for this fall. But you’ve still got questions about the future of telemedicine, and when and how libraries will reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

We answer those questions and more in this week’s edition of “OH Really?

We’ve received a lot of questions from listeners like Jane Braddock from Fredericksburg who wonder, "If there had been any talk about when libraries might be open to the public again after the shutdown?”

The Ohio Library Council has been leading the effort with a roadmap to reopening. Council Director Michelle Francis tell us it's not a question of when, but of how. The libraries are doing their best to ensure they provide a safe experience for patrons and employees. They’re quickly working to prepare their public spaces. This week, some of them--including the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County--are launching curbside service. They have to make sure they have enough PPE on-hand and proper spacing to employe physical distancing among people.  

Future of telemedicine?
Jay Klemme from Wooster had a question about healthcare. "What is anticipated for changes in the structure of medical practice if telemedicine stays with us, post-COVID-19?"

Many of us have used telemedicine for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, and there’s no going back in some cases for non-emergency care. J.B. Silvers, a healthcare finance professor at Case Western Reserve University, says doctors and patients have found they actually like this kind of interaction better in some cases; it can be advantageous to see a patient in their own setting, especially when they’re home bound. In behavioral services, people are opening up more [and] willing to talk more.

J.B. Silvers is a professor of health care finance at Case Western Reserve University. He's been surprised by surveys that show, in some cases, greater satisfaction from a virtual visit with a health care provider.

"Some data showed that the satisfaction levels were actually higher on telemedicine visits than face-to-face, which I found astounding," Silvers said. "From a financial point-of-view, the institutions will find they have lower revenue. They don’t do the ancillary tests and other things that happen in a [face-to-face] visit. On the other hand, they may do more of these, so the volume of visits will go up significantly. And I think actuaries for insurance companies are very nervous about which of those is going to win."

Planning for July
Summer is typically a time for getting together. Barbara Buser of Brunswick Hills wonders what to do if people are planning summer events, such as for Independence Day? She wants to know if people will have to self-isolate before or after. 

Summit County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Erika Sobolewski says, "Certainly, there’s no guidance at this point in time for any time of self-isolate prior to events. What we’re trying to communicate is that everyone needs to assess their own risks and what risks they're willing to take and guide their exposure based on that.”

OH Really? seeks to answer your questions about coronavirus or any other topic. Keep sending in your questions on any topic here, and we’ll try to answer them.


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.