Medicine without the mileage

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Eric Wallace, M.D.Eric Wallace, M.D., nephrologist and medical director for UAB eMedicine, seen on one of UAB's telehealth carts, through which patients at other hospitals can see a UAB specialist without traveling to Birmingham.Telehealth visits through UAB eMedicine saved patients approximately 263,000 hours of travel and $5.68 million in time saved based on the 2019 Alabama median hourly wage. Those statistics are a few of the highlights from a remarkable year for telehealth at UAB, as explored in UAB eMedicine's new annual report.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, UAB eMedicine had completed 280,668 telehealth appointments, and 91% of UAB providers are using telehealth. Patients saved an average of 58.1 miles of driving per telehealth visit, which totaled approximately 13.7 million driving miles and 5.7 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions saved — the equivalent of taking 1,231 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

"My eMedicine video call saved me about half a day, taking off work and driving 30-45 minutes to go sit in a crowded waiting room for an hour," according to one patient quoted in the report.

"Telehealth is the future of medicine," another patient said. "Convenient, safer, efficient and I actually look forward to my appointment. I think UAB would see much better compliance with patients keeping appointments if this became the norm."

In addition to ambulatory care, UAB eMedicine's inpatient consultation service was used by 12 hospitals around the state, who consulted on 832 nephrology cases, 779 critical care cases and 678 stroke cases, among others.

Learn more about UAB eMedicine in the 2020 annual report or visit to learn about services, including on-demand urgent care questionnaire-based appointments ($25 per visit) and on-demand urgent care video visits ($45 per visit).

Ensuring statewide access to telehealth services is a key objective of Forging the Future, UAB’s strategic plan.