Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
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Telehealth an opportunity for advancement from the pandemic

by Dr. Colleen Sholar, Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics

Given that we are entering the second year of the pandemic, I was pondering topics to discuss and felt a bit like a broken record.

Masks- please wear them. Social distancing- don't breathe on each other. Vaccines- this is a breakthrough so if you are in the eligible group and want to get it call our clinic for an appointment. New variants- these were expected but are certainly scary.

Treatments for those infected- these are evolving with experience but interestingly there isn't as much as I am hoping. Long term effects of infections- this is going to take a while to collect the data and see trends. I didn't want to repeat these same things. In the spirit of optimism I have also been thinking about some of the good things that have come out of this past year and I'm not just talking about that new bread recipe you have been perfecting, that project around the house you had been putting off, and all the extra time you have had with your household members since there hasn't been anywhere to go. I want to talk about a new resource, specifically telemedicine.

Telemedicine is something that has been evolving over the past decades but previously had so many restrictions about licensing for providers and coverage by insurance that it hadn't fully taken off, but now it has found its place in the lime light. Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics has, over the past decade, stepped into telemedicine with adult psychiatry, child psychiatry, cardiology, tele-stroke and at one time we even had a dermatologist. Now, we are taking full advantage of the opportunities and as some of you have experienced we have telemedicine with our primary care providers ready to see you for urgent concerns or routine appointments.

While not all types of appointments lend themselves to telemedicine, you'd be surprised how often it can be used. Do you need to talk to your provider about something you have been seen for before? Want to talk about a medication you are taking or get a refill? Need tests ordered or to review results? If you want to try telemedicine but you and your provider decide during your appointment that you should be seen then you can head into clinic, but if not then you were able to stay home (in your PJ pants) and you saved some time traveling into clinic. It's easy to schedule a telemedicine appointment. This service is available for you during regular clinic hours with any of our providers. When you call the clinic to schedule an appointment just ask if it can be telemedicine and the scheduler will verify your email address so you can be sent a link to your provider's doxy.me waiting room. This email includes directions and a link where you can test your internet connection so that you can see what the video and audio will be like during your appointment. Then, at the time of your appointment, simply click on the link to enter your provider's virtual waiting room. The nurse will greet you, ask you the basic rooming questions and then your provider will join you for your appointment. We chose doxy.me https://doxy.me/ because it is HIPAA compliant and fairly easy to use from your desktop, tablet or smart phone if you have internet access.

So, while this pandemic has been challenging, some long term good will be seen and I am not alone in thinking that Telemedicine is here to stay. If you want to give it a try schedule an appointment!

Photo: Dr. Colleen Sholar

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140