How can we make sure telehealth processes are making a difference that matters? Having led virtual care for Kaiser Permanente Colorado, what matters most to me is that we are finding ways to make care less expensive and/or with better clinical outcomes.
We have some proof that telehealth improves clinical outcomes. Video visits significantly decrease no-shows for mental health care. Remote patient monitoring significantly increases patient engagement in managing chronic disease. Most trust that no-shows and patient engagement are good surrogates for improved outcomes. However, the evidence that telehealth processes lead to decreased cost and/or improved clinical outcomes is less clear.
We pause each November to give thanks. This year, more than ever, it is important to give thanks. For many of us, we are thankful that everyone now knows what telemedicine is and are actively using it even though many of us have been supporting telemedicine and telehealth for well over 20 years. We asked a few friends and colleagues in the Southwest region “What are you thankful for?” and below are their responses. We hope that you too will be thankful.
“I am extraordinarily thankful, now more than ever, for both my health and my financial stability. I am also thankful that there has been a burning platform for, and therefore a tremendously increased use of telehealth processes, by both clinicians and consumers. Finally, I am thankful to be able to significantly increase my contribution to the improvement of the US healthcare system as a result of the increased interest in telehealth processes.”
COVID-19 has overstayed it welcome for most of us. Everyone’s lives, across the nation and world, have changed drastically in the last nine months. While COVID-19 has impacted everyone, everyone’s experiences have been different.
This summer, I had the privilege to speak to Carol Lewis about Yavapai county, Arizona’s experience and how rural centers are handing the pandemic. But even rural centers experience the effects of the pandemic differently from each other. To explore different experiences across the southwest, I reached out to The Wayne Community Health Center in the rural town of Bicknell, Utah. Bicknell is one of the 10 communities that make up Wayne County. Wayne county contains about 2,475 square miles (105 miles long and 23 miles wide) in south central Utah, 97% of which is federal and state land. The population of Wayne county is about 2700 and there is only one medical doctor in the county to serve them. Of 2700 people in Wayne county approximately 81% of them have health insurance. The demographic of the population is mostly Caucasian (91%), with the median age and income being 41 years and $45K respectively.
I don’t use a smartphone to access Telehealth. Being a “tetraplegic” I have no use of my hands, so I invented a unique way to operate different electronic devices.
I created two styles of mouth sticks.
This one I use while in bed. It’s made from a quarter inch wooden dowel with both ends covered with surgical tubing. If you notice, one end is covered two and a half inches and the other a half inch. The longer end is for biting on and the other is to cushion the tip.
The second mouth stick I use while sitting up in my wheelchair. I can drive up to the desk I designed and park myself in front of my keyboard and computer. The mouth sticks I use while in my chair has a lucite bite impression the dentists made for me. I don’t use this type of mouth stick while laying down in bed because I can’t easily swivel the stick from side to side.
I’m not ready to jump on a plane anytime soon to get away from staying at home during COVID, but I am willing to jump in my car and take a road trip to do some hiking in National Parks on less popular trails and have done just that in the past couple of months. One was to Great Smokey Mountain National Park and the other to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Southwest Telehealth Resource Center • University of Arizona Health Sciences • P.O. Box 245105 • Tucson, AZ 85724-5105
This website was made possible by grant number U1U42527 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS