Often when we think of telehealth we think of specialty care delivered to underserved areas. Having the specialist in the 'big city' connect via video with patients for examinations, follow-up, etc., is a great way to save time, money and to expand care to those who don't have a specialty provider locally (in the Northwest that means most people: we have two frontier states, with populations under six per square mile, and the other five have a high percentage of frontier and rural counties. There's a whole lot of not much in a large portion of our area. But specialty care is only one aspect of telehealth. What about primary care? When areas have too low a population to support a family care provider, what can they do? Again, telehealth comes to the rescue. Primary care docs can support physician assistants, nurse practitioners or registered nurses who work out of small clinics in remote areas. We've just been working with some providers who want to put a new spin on even that. The providers have practices in the region, but necessity drives them to spend a lot of time out of state. Why not use telehealth to follow up with their existing patients? No good reason not to. That allows the small communities to maintain care and the providers to take care of pressing issues. Once again, telehealth is the answer.
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