TERRE HAUTE, Indiana – With new regulatory standards now in place, an urgent need for telehealth and telemedicine applications has exploded during the recent COVID-19 crisis, leading healthcare providers to search for secure online solutions. Physicians, clinics and other providers who need HIPAA-certified telehealth capacity can now utilize a cost-effective platform available through the Indiana Rural Health Association’s WhiteBark division.
“The financial stress on our rural hospitals has never been greater,” said Don Kelso, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA). “New reimbursement options and expanded telehealth consult capacity gives physicians and clinics fresh options to deal with dramatically expanded costs and declining revenues.”
The cost and training for new telehealth technology can impede its adoption, so IRHA made arrangements to offer a cost-effective and versatile technology that can be easily adopted, the CEO added.
“The separation and safety requirements of the current Coronavirus crisis have led to greatly increased demand for secure telehealth services, but physicians and providers may face a challenge in finding a cost-effective and secure service that can meet their needs during this intensely unusual time,” said Deena Dodd, Director of Government Relations for the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA). “Follow-up telemedicine consults and wellness visits can also be effectively conducted through the IRHA/WhiteBark platform, effectively satisfying social distancing safety concerns during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The IRHA/WhiteBark telehealth platform, available at considerably lower cost than many similar services, can support and reduce healthcare staffing needs, provide an opportunity for physicians to reach out to a variety of isolated patients, including elderly patients who would otherwise be exposed to the risk of travel during the COVID-19 crisis.
The online platform is not limited in the number of physicians and patients it can serve. It can handle a number of physicians including primary care providers, specialists, mental health providers and others with a full range of online services, including digital “waiting rooms” for patients to log into for service.
Dodd noted four advantages of that can be achieved through the IRHA WhiteBark telehealth platform: “Our online platform through WhiteBark provides a strategic business solution for employers to help keep employees healthy and on the job; it represents a solid solution for county and state correctional facilities to provide care of the incarcerated populations while keeping their budgets on track; it will allow long-term care facilities to provide in house practitioner visits while reducing the need to transport patients; and it gives mental and behavioral health providers -- as well as addiction counselors – a secure platform to provide confidential service and care in a safe environment.”
The platform can support programming associated with providers, including teledentistry, telelactation services, behavioral counseling, and acute physical health services.
The service is available in both rural and urban healthcare settings.
Software available through IRHA’s White Bark can create a streamlined telehealth multi-use portal for physicians, providers and government agencies. As noted, typical uses for telehealth services range from mental health and addiction consults to medical support for long term care, public health needs and patients housed in correctional facilities, as well as patient and physician direct visits conducted electronically.
“In our experience of bringing telehealth services to hospitals, schools and providers, we have found that some face challenges of cost, training and capacity when they begin investigating the possibility of starting or expanding telehealth services,” Dodd, said. “Our WhiteBark Telehealth platform readily addresses these issues.”
The WhiteBark platform offers secure online telemedicine consults, including digital examination tools such as a tele-auscultation platform that securely transmits live heart and lung audio, as well as other high-quality instrumentation.
More information about the secure service is available at www.indianaruralhealth.org/WhiteBarkTelehealth
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About the Indiana Rural Health Association
The Indiana Rural Health Association was organized in 1997 and is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the health and well-being of rural populations in Indiana through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development. The strength of the organization is through the present diverse membership and the founding organizers who are committed to impacting the health of citizens through the identification of rural health issues and through advocacy roles in both the public and private sectors. IRHA membership is made up of 3,300 diverse individuals and organizations, making it the largest state rural health association in the nation, and a nationally recognized leader in rural health care. For more information, visit www.indianaruralhealth.org.