Patients in rural northern California communities will now have faster, more convenient access to specialty care in their area thanks to a new telehealth initiative announced by the Blue Shield of California and the Roseville, Calif.-based Adventist Health.
Many patients in these regions must currently drive long distances to seek specialty care due to a lack of local specialists. With this program, Blue Shield members can be diagnosed and treated by specialists from across the state through interactive video technology available at a local Adventist Health site.
Available specialties include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology (diabetes), pulmonology, rheumatology (arthritis), orthopedics, infectious disease, nephrology, gastroenterology, general surgery and spine surgery. The specialists are Adventist Health physicians and are contracted in the Blue Shield network.
Each site location is equipped with specialized interactive video technology, which allows the patient to see, hear and interact with their specialist. A clinical coordinator in the office assists the patient and utilizes diagnostic equipment including an electronic stethoscope, vital signs monitor, and high definition camera to send accurate data, images and audio to the specialist during the visit. The visits are private and confidential, with the patient’s information encrypted and transmitted through a highly secure connection on the Adventist Health secure data network.
Blue Shield and Adventist Health intend to expand this initiative to more locations and to make the program available to additional Blue Shield membership later in 2014., officials say.