NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Adventist Health and Blue Shield announced a new telehealth initiative to help individuals and families in rural northern California communities to access specialty care in their area.
Many patients in these regions currently drive long distances to seek specialty care due to a lack of local specialists.
With this program, Blue Shield members can be diagnosed and treated by specialists from across the state through interactive video technology available at a local Adventist telehealth site.
The telehealth collaboration will reduce travel time and expense for patients while increasing their access to high-quality care.
The program is targeted to Blue Shield individual and family plan customers, including those who purchased coverage through Covered California.
Available specialties include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology (diabetes), pulmonology, rheumatology (arthritis), orthopedics, infectious disease, nephrology, gastroenterology, general surgery and spine surgery.
The specialists are Adventist Health physicians and are contracted in the Blue Shield network. A patient can be referred by their local primary physician or can self-refer, make an appointment through a centralized care coordination call center, and go to their local Adventist Health telehealth location for their office visit.
Participating Adventist Health telehealth sites are located in the following cities in Paradise, Clearlake, Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, St. Helena, Napa, Sonora and Dinuba.
The member’s cost for a telehealth visit is the same as their plan’s co-pay/co-insurance amount for specialist visits with an in-network provider.
“Adventist Health’s telehealth program will help ensure that patients get the care they need by providing access to specialists who are currently unavailable in many rural markets,” said Steven Herber, MD, interim ceo, St. Helena Hospital Region. “This program makes getting specialty care more convenient. Because telemedicine enables patients to get evaluated and treated sooner, it should enhance the patient experience and improve their health outcomes.”
Each telehealth site is equipped with specialized interactive video technology which allows the patient to see, hear and interact with their specialist.
A clinical coordinator in the office assists the patient and utilizes diagnostic equipment including an electronic stethoscope, vital signs monitor, and high definition camera to send accurate data, images and audio to the specialist during the visit.
The visits are private and confidential, with the patient’s information encrypted and transmitted through a highly secure connection on the Adventist Health secure data network.
Blue Shield individual and family plan members interested in scheduling a telehealth visit should call 1-866-832-8218.
Visit www.blueshieldca.com/telehealth for more information.