Telemedicine System Reduces Costs, Improves Access to Care for Rural California Patients
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat yesterday profiled a 10-month-old telemedicine system that allows physicians at the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento to treat patients at Round Valley Indian Health Center. The system allows the 5,000 residents of Round Valley, which has no private medical or dental offices, to receive health care at the facility and avoid the 50-mile trip to the nearest hospital. Round Valley provides telemedicine clinics two times per month, which helps the health center reduce transportation costs. Although the clinics only provide endocrinology services for diabetes patients, Round Valley administrators plan to expand the system to include psychiatry and pain management services in the future, according to Steve Viramontes, telemedicine coordinator for the health center. The system uses videoconference equipment, a television and a high-speed telephone connection to allow consultations between UC-Davis physicians and Round Valley patients. The system also allows Round Valley care providers to e-mail images of patient retinas to an ophthalmologist in Ukiah to test patients for diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. Round Valley received about $352,000 in public and private funds to establish the system. About 90 patients have received consultations through the system in the past 10 months (Wang, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/7). For more iHealth & Technology stories, visit iHealthBeat.org, a new Web publication sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.