What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the electronic transfer of medical information between two geographically separate medical facilities. By using telecommunications technology, rural healthcare facilities can be connected to larger medical centers. In its simplest form, this may be done with telephones or fax machines, and now, via live interactive video.
What types of consultations can be done over telemedicine?
Telemedicine programs around the country have documented that nearly all specialty services can be provided with telemedicine. Those utilized thus far by TeleCare Network members have been: dermatology, orthopedics, surgery, psychiatry, emergency medicine, cardiology, neonatology, neurology, neurosurgery, obstetrics/gynecology, cardiovascular surgery, plastic surgery, pulmonology, oncology, otorhinolaryngology, pediatrics, and infectious diseases. Other areas include employee assistance counseling, hospice care conferences, wound care management, dietary consultations and various education sessions.
How are consultations scheduled?
First, the primary care provider offers the telemedicine consultation as an alternative to the patient. The patient then has the option to choose telemedicine or the traditional method of driving to see the Bismarck specialist. If telemedicine is chosen, the rural provider notifies CHI St. Alexius Health of the pending consultation. The telemedicine staff then contacts the appropriate specialist, coordinates a time that is mutually convenient to the patient and physicians, and then confirms this time with the rural provider. The goal is to coordinate a consultation with the appropriate specialist and to avoid lateral referrals whenever possible. It is not necessary for a specific specialist to be identified by the primary physician, unless they have a definite preference. Telemedicine consultations are available on either a routine or emergency basis.
Is there an added charge to the patient?
No, there is no charge relating to the use of the technology, but the physician does charge for the office visit the same as he would for a traditional visit. Currently, North Dakota Blue Cross Blue Shield and North and South Dakota Medicaid do reimburse for telemedicine services. Medicare reimburses for telemedicine services provided in Healthcare Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). If you are a Medicare recipient and unsure if your provider is located in a HPSA, please ask them before your consultation.
How can I learn more about this exciting technology?
Call the Telemedicine Services Division at CHI St. Alexius Health at (701) 530-7057 or 1-800-393-7130 or email.