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Q: What is telehealth, and who can use it?

Posted February 12, 2014 in Advice Column, Greene County

A: Telehealth facilitates health care directly between patient and provider using the latest technology. A personalized telehealth visit allows the patient and physician to see and talk with each other via video camera and screen, as if in the same room. These visits can take place in hospital rooms, emergency rooms, surgical facilities, clinics and skilled nursing homes.

Using skilled medical providers and current technology, patients located in the most rural areas have easy access to their own physician or numerous specialists. A telehealth visit can save a patient time and money by avoiding an unnecessary trip out of town. If specialists can “see” patients via telehealth, an appointment with a specialist could happen sooner. The key component is that both patient and physician or specialist must have access to telehealth equipment. Facilities can equip patient areas with necessary equipment, while physicians would have equipment in their private office. With the use of monitors, an electronic stethoscope, otoscope and/or cameras, a physician can gather information necessary for diagnosis and/or treatment.

Patient privacy is protected when using telehealth. All current privacy and HIPAA standards are followed. Typically most insurances cover telehealth visits. However, patients should always check with their carrier for verification. Telehealth just recently become a part of standard medical care options and isn’t necessarily available for all services. However, it is becoming a viable option patients should explore when seeking medical care. If it’s available, it could save time and money for both the patient and provider.

Information provided by Greene County Medical Center, 1000 West Lincolnway, Jefferson, 515-386-2488.

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