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AI could be coming to Central Texas, and Telehealth is here to stay

AI could be coming to Central Texas, and Telehealth is here to stay
Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 04, 2024

CENTRAL TEXAS (KXXV) — When was the last time you had a doctor visit over your phone or your laptop — maybe during the pandemic?

Some experts say it's not going away — in fact, Telehealth is still needed and now, AI is being added to the equation. Whether you’re a fan or not — here’s what you need to know.

Anne Funk lives in Waco and doesn't use Telehealth.

"I mostly go to the doctor in person — I've only done a virtual visit like once during COVID," Funk said.

She's not alone.

Dr. Terry Rascoe is the Medical Director of Baylor Scott and White’s Virtual Urgent Care in Temple.

“Currently the level of visits, which will give you some idea, went from the 150,000 that we did in 2020 in a month, to about 40,000 or so let’s say in December, which tends to be sorta a busy month," Dr. Rascoe said.

While Texas’ healthcare systems have expanded physical locations over recent years and the pandemic is over, there’s still a demand for telehealth visits especially because of it’s convenience, but there’s a much more urgent need for it in rural access.

According to an article published earlier this yearby Texas A&M’s Vital Record, Texas boasts the nation’s largest rural population, with more than four million residents.

However, the state also has the most rural hospitals at risk of closure.

Texas A&M University is supporting rural healthcare through the Rural Engagement Program which expands Texas’ healthcare footprint in rural areas and putting more boots on the ground.

While virtual visits isn’t new to the medical field, AI is.

“I suspect AI will be used more heavily in the future to help people navigate the healthcare system more effectively and quickly, and that may not require a person, at least initially," Dr. Rascoe said.

For Anne, she understands the importance of telehealth for some people but for her it’s about building a connection in person.

“I think it’s more personable and I feel like I have more time to ask questions and actually connect with my doctor as opposed to feeling like a blimp on the screen for the day," she said.

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