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Telemedicine Expands Access to Services

In an effort to provide patients with services that are currently unavailable in the San Luis Valley, San Luis Valley Health has equipped itself with telemedicine equipment that will expand the services available to Valley residents. 

As part of strategy three, Providers of Choice for Healthcare, of San Luis Valley Health’s Strategy Map, the organization pledged a commitment to access to care, which includes the integration of telemedicine.

The telemedicine program will operate in a similar fashion to that of a patient visiting a clinic for a service.  The appointment will be conducted with a nurse in the room with the patient.  The nurse will act as “the hands” of the doctor, who sees the patient through the telemedicine equipment. 

“We are excited for the opportunity to bring this service to our patients and their families,” said Jennifer Mueller, Director of Clinical Operations at San Luis Valley Health.  “Not only does this program expand services to our patients, but it allows them to stay close to home and save on the expenses associated with travel.”

Patients will call to schedule an appointment in the way they always have, and the appointment will take place in the clinic that they call to schedule their appointment.  Telemedicine appointments will be billed in a similar way and are covered by insurance in the same way a traditional appointment would be.

It was through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that Centura Health was able to provide San Luis Valley Health with the telemedicine equipment.   The equipment is also available at Conejos County Hospital.  Additionally, Rio Grande Hospital is set-up to use similar equipment.  An advantage of having all three hospitals using the equipment is the ability to connect patients to the specialty providers at San Luis Valley Health in disciplines such as Orthopedics, Ear, Nose and Throat, and Oncology. 

“Our primary care physicians will be able to connect with the specialty providers they are referring patients to,” explained Mueller.  “Additionally, our providers will be better connected to different boards and groups in the healthcare industry, allowing for further education that can be brought to the San Luis Valley.”

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