Coastal Ridge Health Services provides Telemedicine services for follow-up medication management and counseling appointments from the comfort of your own home or workplace.
To log on to our Telemedicine Portal please go to:
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine refers to the practice of using telecommunications technology to evaluate, diagnose and care for patients at a distance. Although the approach has been around for decades in limited fashion, it is quickly becoming an important and mainstream channel of healthcare delivery in the United States.
Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty. Rather, it is a method of providing clinical care. Included in telemedicine are patient consultations conducted through audio and video conferencing, remote monitoring of vital signs, nurse advice lines, transmission of images, and test results.
Telemedicine and Telehealth
Although the terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, technically telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. Telehealth includes non-clinical activities such as medical education, administrative meetings, and provider training. Both telehealth and telemedicine are part of an even larger range of technologies known as Healthcare Information Technology (HIT), which also includes patient management systems and digital medical records.
Healthcare Services Provided via Telemedicine
A wide variety of clinical services are provided using telemedicine technologies.
Primary and Follow Up Care
In many cases, a remote visit using high definition video and audio conferencing can replace an in-person visit to the doctor’s office. The patient and provider connect using an application designed for the purpose. The patient may participate using a personal computer or smart mobile device. In this case, the patient can be anywhere that offers sufficient privacy.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Certain conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, can best be managed with real-time information about patient vital signs and activities. Telemedicine technology can be used to transmit and store this type of data.
Psychiatric Services and Counseling
Telemedicine is ideally suited for psychiatric services, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle coaching, including weight management and smoking cessation.
School Based Healthcare
Schools have found that telemedicine is an effective way to get students necessary medical attention with minimal interruption to their school day. You may want to reach out to your child’s school and see if this is an option for services.
Assisted Living Support
Care teams at assisted living centers and skilled nursing facilities can receive the support of remote providers via video, making it possible to get patients the care they need without the complexity of transportation.
The Increasing Popularity of Telemedicine
There are a few factors that have converged to make widespread adoption of telemedicine possible and necessary.
The ubiquity of high-speed internet access and mobile devices
Most people now have access to the technology necessary for telehealth. Not only do people already have computers and smart devices that can access the internet, they are also used to using telecommunications technology in other contexts.
The Affordable Care Act
The ACA has made it possible for approximately 16 million more people to become insured. In order to service them, the healthcare system must become more efficient. Telemedicine is one way of caring for more patients with the same resources.
The aging of the population
By 2050 the United States is expected to have 83.7 million people over age 65. Older patients generally require more care than their younger counterparts. Providing efficient and cost effective care to this portion of the population is a major challenge facing the entire healthcare system. Telehealth has a large role to play in meeting it.
Evolving laws and payer policies
Many states have adopted laws that require private payers to cover visits conducted via telemedicine. Insurance companies recognize the efficiency and cost effectiveness of telemedicine and are increasingly providing coverage on par with in-person visits.
No transportation time or costs
When you see your provider on your mobile device or computer, you can save money on gas, parking, and public transportation. Even better, you don’t waste time traveling or risk running into a traffic jam that makes you late for your appointment, or worse, late getting back to work.
No need to take time off of work
Speaking of work, video visits largely remove the need to take time off. You can simply schedule your visit during a break, or before or after work. You can be anywhere that offers sufficient privacy. You can comply with your medical providers follow-up instructions and maintain your health without missing a day of work or wasting your precious paid time off.
Eliminate child or elder care issues
Many of us have the responsibility for caring for children or older adults. Finding alternative care so that you can see the doctor can be difficult and expensive. Bringing them along can be stressful or impractical. Fortunately, telemedicine solves this challenge by allowing you to see your doctor while upholding your family responsibilities.
More and more medical practices are offering telemedicine these days, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to see your regular medical provider via video. If you can’t, but still need remote access to care, there are a number of online-only, on-demand options on the market today. They can’t treat every condition, but can tackle a wide variety of problems. Some insurance companies pay for this type of care.
Protection from Contagious Disease
Where can you be sure to find a lot of sick people? At the medical clinic of course. While everyone does their best to prevent one patient from catching something from another, it is always possible, especially in crowded waiting rooms. By staying home, you get the care you need while avoiding the risk of exposure and the chance that you’ll pass your illness on to someone else.
Less Time in the Waiting Room
If you choose a video visit via telemedicine technology, you’ll eliminate all that time spent looking at old magazines in a medical provider’s office. Even if you don’t use telemedicine, choosing a practice that offers it will reduce your wait time by letting other patients be seen from home.
When you are able to see your medical provider as often as you need to, without the challenges of getting into the office, you can practice better management of your medication, lifestyle, and any chronic conditions you might have.
Given this list, it is not surprising that people are seeking out healthcare providers that offer the convenience and cost effectiveness of telehealth. It is poised to have a major positive impact on the entire healthcare system, and ready to make life a little bit easier for you.
Quality of Care
It is important to know that not every medical situation is right for a video visit. Your provider and staff know when it is safe and effective to conduct an encounter using telemedicine. For those that are, studies have shown that there is no detectable difference in the ability of a provider to gather necessary information, make an accurate diagnosis, and develop a plan for treatment. In short, video visits result in the same desired clinical outcomes as in-person care when used appropriately.
In fact, when used in certain context, telemedicine can actually improve patient outcomes. Here are a few examples:
Congestive Heart Failure
Among patients with congestive heart failure, one study found that telemonitoring was “significantly associated with reductions in mortality ranging from 15% to 56% compared with patients receiving ‘usual care.’”
In a study to assess whether telestroke consultations were superior for decision-making purposes than telephone-only consultations, the former won out—with researchers determining that telemedicine-based consulting resulted in more accurate decision-making.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
A study to assess “Using Telehealth technology to deliver pulmonary rehabilitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients” concluded that telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation was an effective tool for increasing access to services, and improved both quality of life and capacity to exercise in comparison with the traditional approach.
Mental Health Counseling and Medication Management Visits
A study to assess “Using Telehealth technology to deliver mental health care reduces hospitalizations by 67% and concluded that telehealth mental health visits are an effective tool for increasing access to services, and improved both quality of life and capacity to exercise in comparison with the traditional approach.
When Video Visits Can Replace In-office Visits
Video visits can be used to replace in-office visits in a number of ways. Examples include:
Providers often recommend a follow up visit after beginning a course of treatment. These visits are important to the ultimate resolution or management of the problem. Doing them remotely makes it easier for you to comply with the doctor’s recommendations.
Both traditional practices and stand alone clinics are starting to offer telemedicine as an option for urgent care needs. Conditions such as the flu, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and more can be effectively treated without an in-office encounter.
Telemedicine makes it possible for patients to get access to the best specialist for their needs, not just the closest.
Privacy and Security
You have every right to be concerned about the privacy and security of your confidential medical information. While today’s digital world offers a lot of convenience, there are risks. Fortunately, there are telemedicine solutions on the market that have been designed specifically to protect patient information and meet the strict standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA for short.
Be sure to ask your provider if the solution they use is HIPAA compliant, and never agree to a video visit over consumer grade applications like Facetime or Skype.