During this COVID pandemic, the education system and teachers everywhere turned to distance learning to teach and engage our children. Did you know that healthcare providers retooled their skills to use virtual care and telemedicine to deliver the care directly to their patients?

Altru has always had a sensitive eye on the future and the ongoing healthcare needs of the region it serves. Thirteen years ago, Altru began using Telemedicine to connect with patients in the rural hospitals and clinics. Altru serves patients at more than 45 rural sites of hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities and residential facilities. Psychiatry, Oncology, Infectious Disease, Nephrology and Urology are only a few of the more than 100 specialists that were early adopters of the technology. Difficult winters, time away from work, and rural economics were part of the driving force for growth to 12, 000 patient encounters a year. These services improve access and quality of care while patient satisfaction scores are 99 %. And now, Virtual care keeps patients safe from COVID.

With the public health emergency, an additional 200 Altru providers stepped up to engage in Virtual Care connecting to the patient at home or on their mobile device. Virtual care connections are easy to use, like a Facetime connection. Health care organizations are required to use additional security and patient recognition software. Although this requirement is somewhat relaxed during the pandemic, the most effective way to handle your healthcare is through your hospital’s app on your phone or online. At Altru it is called MyChart.

Today, Altru has the tools in place to care for their patients at a distance. Patients can access the care they need virtually during this pandemic and in the future while being safe at home. Do not neglect your health, reach out and get the care you need, virtually. Download the app today if you have not done so yet and sign up on-line.

At present, Marsha Waind is an independent consultant, NDHIN Telemedicine Workgroup co-chair, advisory member to gpTRAC, Regional Telehealth Resource Center.