Like many states, my state has some big cities, but lots of rural areas. We still have plenty of farms, orchards, and yes – even ranchers on horseback rounding up their cattle. Once, I was driving down the interstate through a rural area and was shocked to see the highway patrol trying to round up local cows that broke through a fence and ended up on the highway. Not kidding.
Now that’s something you don’t see every day.
My state is very large (it takes 8 hours to drive north to south, and about 5 hours driving east to west.) Many of our towns are very remote, they are the kind of small towns where they don’t have stop lights.
So, what can you do when you live in a town of 300 people and the closest hospital is hours away?
Enter telehealth or telemedicine.
Chiron Health, explains it this way. They say telehealth can be: training for doctors, ongoing medical education, and administrative meetings. What a great idea! Doctors are so busy, that’s it hard for them to take time away from seeing patients to attend conferences. With telehealth, they can listen to updates in research and treatment from their office or home. I also listen to telehealth webinars several times a month to stay up to date on the latest allergy and asthma findings from experts and to get continuing education credits. You can never know everything there is to know about allergies and asthma! I am always willing to learn more from the experts.
Telemedicine is where doctors can provide help to patients hundreds of miles away. For example, you go see a specialist, and you need a follow-up visit – but can’t take more time off work or don’t feel well enough to travel a long way to see the doctor. Telemedicine helps doctors arrange secure audio and video so you can chat with the doctor and have a follow-up visit.
Or, you can live in a rural area, have an accident or illness – and end up at a local clinic. The doctor there may know what you need, but it isn’t his area of specialty. Maybe he would be more comfortable getting a second opinion from a specialist in cardiology or pediatric intensive care. So, you can both listen to the video consultation with a specialist hundreds of miles away and make the treatment decision together. The specialist can help the doctor in your town with a few ideas (or let him know he’s on the right track for treatment), or the specialist may feel that you need to be transported to a bigger regional hospital for more treatment.
This video explains how it works.
Other times, you might not be able to get to the doctor in the first place. Maybe you are too sick to drive, the battery is dead on your car, or there’s a storm brewing outside. My insurance company offers an app where I can have a quick video call with a doctor. They can treat everything from allergies to vomiting and diarrhea (and everything in between.) They can call in a prescription, or they may want me to head to the closest emergency room.
There are several companies nationwide that offer the same type of help with a simple video call. It can be a lot less expensive than a trip to the emergency room.
There are lots of options out there, so please don’t go without medical help!