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Telemedicine for Rural Health in Farm and Ranch Country

Jun 27, 2019 | Uncategorized

Lois Mollman was used to the pain of bladder infections. She had routinely dealt with them. So when she walked into the McIntosh South Dakota Horizon clinic, that’s what she thought she had. Another annoying bladder infection.

In a rural prairie location, providers often rotate clinics or serve restricted hours. On this day, Lois’s primary health care provider was at her very own maternity checkup. But thanks to telemedicine services, Lois was seen by another professional in Bison, 83 miles away.

That’s the beauty of telemedicine services. A patient does not have to wait to be seen. And travel is not mandatory. Video conferencing has been a game changer for rural health.

The Importance of Telemedicine Technology

Telemedicine technology is essential to community health systems like Horizon Health. It basically consists of a large high definition monitor, a camera, speaker, and a fast internet connection. Think of it like Skype or Facetime, but much more dependable.

With telemedicine, a patient can see a provider anywhere in the country in real time. This removes the barrier to care. It also can link you to a specialist, should your care require that consultation. It helps providers speak to one another and share essential information. All of this takes place over a secure network and protects the patient’s privacy.

These tools are valuable to Horizon Health’s rural communities. You no longer have to “make a trip to the city” to get the care you require. There is no drop off in care or geographical restrictions. Horizon Health has invested heavily in this technology because we know it is crucial.

It’s a good thing too, because in Lois’s case, there was clearly something wrong. From the video session alone, the nurse and provider immediately recognized Lois’s health was declining rapidly. They could see she was very pale and her lack of color indicated trouble. And that’s something you simply can’t observe over the phone.

So the clinic got on the phone, calling her husband Frank to drive her to a neighboring hospital where she was admitted immediately. Another great thing about telemedicine technology is collaboration. It simply makes it much easier for providers to consult with each other and exchange health information. In collaboration, they can deliver remote clinical services.

When you can share information easier, peer to peer, you ultimately give the patient better care.
The advanced technology of telemedicine identified a problem. But the caring people of Horizon had the heart to spring into action. It’s a common thing for Horizon’s providers to go above and beyond. Our providers deliver a level of personalized care not often seen in larger health systems.

Operating in rural communities, we are invested in those communities. So a personalized approach to care is very important to us. Because the people we serve are our friends and neighbors.

People Making a Big Difference

Lois was checked in with an acute kidney infection, anemia and a temperature of 104.5 degrees. Her potassium levels were also dangerously low.

“From the receptionist to the nurse to the provider, I have 100% faith in Horizon. It’s the best all around care that I’ve had from any place,” says Lois, who spent four days in the hospital. Today, she drives just ten miles for her blood levels and checkups. This approach to medical care saves Lois and her family valuable time.

“It creates a hardship when you have to take a whole day away from the ranch for a routine appointment,” added Lois. “I have nothing but positive things to say about how they do things right here.”

Work in the country never stops. So as a provider, the work never stops either.

Horizon Health can deliver comprehensive care across the region and state with telemedicine resources. But this technology means very little without the passion of the people who use it. They are neighbors, community members and friends.

In the past, if a provider was out, you had to wait for treatment. But today, Lois is doing well and looking forward to spending time with her growing family for years to come.

Horizon health serves many like Lois – and not just in emergencies. We look at the entire spectrum of health, from physical to social, behavioral and dental. It goes beyond just checkups and sick visits.

We look at an individual’s entire medical history to uncover challenges that may go undetected. Doing so provides the best care and protection for you and your children. Our focus is your wellness. We know that when we treat the entire person, we achieve better wellness outcomes for all.

Telemedicine technology enhances what we do. And we look forward to enhancing the lives of our patients like Lois for generations to come.

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