Would you like to talk to a doctor or health provider from the comfort of your home or anywhere else you might be? With health concerns mounting about COVID-19, many people are choosing to connect with healthcare providers from the safety of their own homes. By using their computer, phone, and other digital devices, they can do something called Telehealth. Copper Valley Telecom’s high-speed Internet and telecommunication services makes it easy to connect with your healthcare provider.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is an appointment with a doctor or healthcare provider conducted over the phone or other electronic devices (tablets, computers, smartphones, etc.). This virtual visit allows you to get the healthcare advice you need without having to go into a healthcare providers’ office physically. The Department of Health describes Telehealth services as the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to deliver health services and transmit health information over both long and short distances. It is about transmitting voice, data, images, and information, rather than moving care recipients, health professionals, or educators.
Dr. Cullen works at the Valdez Medical Clinic. We spoke to him on the phone on March 24, 2020, about his use of Telehealth services to connect with his patients during his self-isolation after his recent travels.
“Obviously, this [COVID-19] is a huge tragedy that’s unfolding before us. It’s fascinating that it’s happening at a time where we have all these digital tools to help us now,” Dr. Cullen said. “This is revolutionizing how we do health care. It [Telehealth] was already happening, but this gave it a huge kickstart,” Cullen said.
Who can use it?
Anyone with access to a smartphone, landline, flip phone, tablet, or computer can use Telehealth services. Even if you only have a home phone or flip phone, many healthcare providers can call you for your Telehealth appointment.
How much does it cost?
The short answer is costs vary depending on the healthcare provider. For instance, Providence Hospitals currently charge $49 or less per visit. However, the Valdez Medical Clinic charges the cost of a regular in-person appointment. They will bill Medicare and other health insurance for telehealth visits if the patient has medical insurance.
“If the insurance isn’t willing to step up, we will charge something comparable to what the Hospital is charging. But our goal is to have insurances pay the cost of the visit,” Dr. Cullen said.
According to a 2017 article by Kaiser Health News, the average cost of a Telehealth appointment is $79 versus $146 for an in-person office visit.
Who pays for it?
Most insurances cover the cost of Telehealth services. If someone doesn’t have insurance, they will pay for the Telehealth appointment out-of-pocket. Telehealth can be an excellent option for those without health insurance since Telehealth services can cost less than an in-person visit to the office of a healthcare provider (depending on what the patient’s healthcare provider charges).
How do I know what Telehealth organization/platform to use?
There are many Telehealth organizations and platforms. The easiest way to figure out which one to use is to call your doctor’s office or healthcare provider and ask them how to set up a Telehealth appointment. They will let you know how to do that and what platform/service they use to connect your healthcare provider directly to you.
Frequently it’s as easy as your healthcare provider sending you a link to your phone or email, with an invite to connect with them using the platform they’ve chosen. Or they can call you on the phone and talk to you about your healthcare concerns.
Links and additional resources:
Here’s a great link explaining what Telemedicine is https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=GEnndrcYVF8&feature=emb_logo
Explanation of Telehealth services for Veterans:
How to use VA Video Connect for Veterans Telehealth Services:
Valdez Medical Clinic:
Providence Valdez Medical Center:
Tazlina Health Clinic:
Phone: (907) 822-4385
Kluti Kaah Health Clinic:
Phone: (907) 822-3541
Cross Roads Medical Center (Glennallen, AK)
Phone: (907) 822-3203 Website: http://www.crossroadmc.org/
Copper River Native Association:
Phone: (907) 822-5421 Website: https://crnative.org
Ilanka Health Center (Cordova, AK)
Phone: (907) 424-3622 Website: https://eyak-nsn.gov/ilanka-community-health-center/
Cordova Community Medical Center
Phone: (907) 424-8000 Website: https://www.cdvcmc.com
Valdez Native Tribe Phone: (907) 835-4951 Website: https://valdeznativetribe.org