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Eye on Health: Telehealth treatment and consultation

WSBT 22

The old fashioned doctor's house call is mostly a thing of the past.

But the ability for patients to get treatment or consultation without leaving their homes is now available using technology.

For some patients in one local health system, this is being done at no cost.

Josi DeHaven runs the Goshen Health Telehealth System. It's for patients who need continual care but can't make it to the doctor every day.

They're given the necessary equipment and training to have that on-going monitoring and counseling.

"We have patients who have a hard time getting out of their house. We have patients that lack of transportation, they are socially isolated. We also have patients who can't breathe so it's very hard for them to leave. This way we’re bringing care to them,” said DeHaven.

That care is more than just physical. It's also the mental and emotional support needed.

DeHaven says a nurse sets up each patient with the equipment needed to have a video conference with them every day, along with equipment that sends along their vital statistics. This gives the caregiver a chance to really know the patient and the patient to know himself.

"We've been able to say, 'Hey I see you're still struggling with smoking why don't I bring my friend who's a smoking cessation counselor on video with you.' We'll have a conversation and can help you think through what would it be to stop smoking, how could I do that, what are the resources,” said DeHaven.

The patients in this telehealth system have no costs related to the service or the equipment. The money behind the program comes from The Goshen Health Foundation.

Its director says this approach of communities finding more of their own solutions will play a greater role as the nation faces its health care dilemma.

"What your shift over the next decade is a focus on outcomes rather than services. We got sick, go to the hospital, pay for that service. But I think there's a lot more interest in paying for outcomes rather than a fee for service,” said Goshen Health Foundation Chief Philanthropy Officer, Mark Lindemood.

Because of the constant communication between the patient and the doctor or nurse, many of these patients now recognize when they're in trouble, when they need additional help and how they can better help themselves.

There are about three dozen patients currently in Goshen Health's telehealth system with the program expanding soon to include cardiac patients.

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