Somewhere Along a Lonesome Highway…
Somewhere along the “Loneliest Road in America,” there sits a small town with a population of a few thousand people. In this town, there is a handful of health care professionals who reliably treat the entire population of Ely and the rest of eastern Nevada. Nevada is the 7th most extensive, the 35th most populous, and the 9th least densely populated of the 50 United States. In fact, 86% of the state’s land is owned by various jurisdictions of the U.S. federal government. While the competence level of clinicians in rural Nevada is not in question, one does wonder how a patient might go about getting a second opinion or further specialist care without having to invest a significant amount of time, money, and other resources traveling to the nearest metropolitan area. This answer can be summed up in one word: Telemedicine.
Telemedicine, or telehealth services include diagnosis, treatment, assessment, monitoring, communication, and education delivered primarily through three kinds of technology: videoconferencing, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward offerings, which transmit digital images between providers.
As with many metropolitan hospitals, the health care organization that I work for offers telemedicine service to many rural areas in the region including Ely, NV. R-TeleMed is a partnership between Nevada Health Centers, Nevada Hospital Association, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners, Renown Health, University of Nevada School of Medicine and independently practicing physician specialists based in Reno, Nevada. It allows highly skilled physician specialists in Reno to consult on the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients in outlying areas.
According to our website, R-Telemed is a telemedicine program that uses secure video conferencing technology to enable long-distance medical care between a rural patient and their healthcare provider, in conjunction with a physician specialist in Reno, Nevada. Using state-of-the-art technology specifically adapted for telemedicine, the physician specialist conducts a live, interactive discussion with the patient and rural healthcare provider to obtain a comprehensive medical history and perform a thorough physical exam. The rural healthcare provider and physician specialist work together on the diagnosis and treatment plan.
Telemedicine has many benefits, including:
•Convenient access to specialists that may not be available locally, especially when time is critical for diagnosing and treating serious conditions.
•Allows patients to receive specialized care close to work, home and family while minimizing the cost and inconvenience of traveling long distances for medical treatment.
•Allows two-way communication between the physician specialist and rural patient, allowing a more detailed and comprehensive review of the patient’s medical history and current condition.
If you live in a rural area, I invite you to search for telemedicine services in your area. If you live in rural Nevada, I invite you to visit this link.