Information for Patients
We recognize that not all patients live near the hospital or medical specialist they need access to. We’re here to help bridge that gap and ensure all patients have access to the care they need.
Telehealth and telemedicine improve access to care — they are great methods to bring healthcare to patients in distant locations, especially rural locations. They reduce travel time and related stresses for patients and/or their family members. Additionally, with telemedicine as an option, patients do not have to take time off work or pull their children out of school to make it to distant appointments. Hospitalized patients whose care is supervised by a specialist via telehealth have the advantage of staying in their home community where friends and family can easily visit.
Using telemedicine, a patient can visit a provider or hospital located near them to connect electronically with a specialist in another area. The specialist can diagnose and provide care for the individual using video conferencing or other telemedical equipment, without the patient having to leave the familiar setting of their doctor’s office.
Patients in the North Country Telehealth Partnership’s service area have completed more than 578,887 appointments since 2014. Up until the COVID pandemic hit in 2020 the number of telehealth appointments was growing gradually, reaching its peak of 4,680 appointments in 2019. But beginning in 2020, the need for telemedicine appointments in order for patients to access healthcare services grew exponentially to 128,361 and further in 2021 to 211,793!
While the pandemic is nothing we want to re-live again, it did help both providers and patients become more comfortable with the use of telemedicine for medical visits. In fact, other benefits also resulted from the increased use of telemedicine and still remain true today, including fewer canceled and missed appointments, improved access to care for those with a lack of transportation or childcare options, improved comfort levels (especially with behavioral health visits) for patients to speak with providers from the comfort of their homes, and more. All signs are pointing toward telemedicine continuing to be a convenient and comfortable healthcare option for patients.
TO LEARN MORE, WATCH THIS SHORT “TELEMEDICINE 101” VIDEO:
What Kinds of Telemedicine are Available?
Depending on where you live in our 11-county region, there are a number of telemedicine options available. Please click on any of the services below to reveal more information about it. If you are interested in where to find any of these telemedicine services in our region, please contact us for more information.
The most widely available service in our region is telepsychiatry, used by children, adolescents and adults. Telepsychiatry can involve direct interaction between a psychiatrist and the patient. It also encompasses psychiatrists supporting primary care providers with mental healthcare consultation and expertise. Mental healthcare can be delivered in a live, interactive communication. It can also involve recording medical information (images, videos, etc.) and sending this to a distant site for later review.
How secure is telemedicine?
The providers and hospitals participating in our telemedicine network know that a patient’s privacy and personal health information is sensitive. Just like at a face-to-face appointment with your healthcare provider, all of your confidential medical information will be protected and only shared with the healthcare professionals involved in your care. Our telehealth network is encrypted and HIPAA-compliant. No patient information is stored.
Note: Your healthcare provider should always use secure platforms and ask for your consent (either verbal or written) before you begin using telemedicine. For more information about privacy and security, visit Chiron Health’s Definitive Guide to Telemedicine.
Is telemedicine covered by insurance?
Yes, all 50 state Medicaid programs cover telemedicine in some capacity, whether live videoconferencing, store and forward, Remote Patient Monitoring, or some combination of the three. Medicare covers telehealth but with some geographic and provider restrictions.
Private payers vary greatly depending on the state. Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia require that private insurers cover telehealth the same as they cover in-person services. This is called coverage parity and was adopted in New York State in 2016.
Before you receive telemedicine services, you should consult your insurance plan, call your insurer, or talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about coverage. Another helpful resource is the Center for Connected Health Policy’s 50 State Report, which is updated semi-annually with information about insurance coverage for telemedicine.