Doctors might not make house calls any more, but a new telehealth service is bringing specialists to rural Colorado. The service hasn’t come to our neck of the woods just yet, but here’s a Pueblo Chieftain story on its arrival in southern Colorado.
By JOHN NORTON | firstname.lastname@example.org
When you look into this camera, don’t say “cheese.” Say “Ahhhhhhh.”
On Tuesday, officials of Centura Health, the network that includes St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, and UnitedHealthCare unveiled their new Connected Care service that will allow patients around Southern Colorado to meet face-to-face with specialists without having to drive hours to get to Pueblo or or Colorado Springs or Denver or worse, go without care.
Connected Care is the region’s first large-scale telemedicine offering, using the Internet’s ability to provide voice and video communications while transmitting the results of simple medical tests.
Dr. Christopher Stanley, senior medical director for UnitedHealthCare of Colorado, said that the plan got its start several years ago when Gov. Bill Ritter asked his company to make Colorado a pilot state for its new telemedicine program. United is a health services provider as well as an insurer but the new service is not limited to its customers. Stanley said that Medicare and Medicaid as well as private insurers will cover the costs of Connected Care visits.
Dr. Steve Brown, St. Mary-Corwin’s chief medical executive, said that the Colorado Office of Rural Health and the Colorado Community Health Network helped to develop a list of remote sites where the service could best be used. Patients now can go to Buena Vista Family Practice, High Plains Community Health Care in Lamar, Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte or St. Vincent General Hospital in Leadville and meet virtually with specialists at St. Mary-Corwin or two other Centura hospitals, Littleton Adventist and St. Anthony Central in Denver.
When might the service come to rural parts of El Paso or Teller counties? UnitedHealthCare officials have not yet responded to that question.
Read the full story in the Pueblo Chieftain here.