by Emily Allred, Director of Oncology

Time and time again, we have heard about the negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people's health, mental stability and even the economy. However, this time has also incentivized innovators to create, get scrappy, and ultimately, adjust to a new way of life.

One of people's major concerns throughout the past couple of months is safety when it comes to visiting their health care providers. Fortunately, telehealth capabilities have allowed providers to close that gap with their patients. Emily Allred, the Director of Oncology at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) shares a bit with us about how telehealth has helped patients feel safe, from the comfort of their own homes, all while still receiving the quality care they need.

How has telehealth changed the way patients are treated at EIRMC?

Telehealth has completely revolutionized medicine. It provides both patients and providers access to one another despite geographical distance. It also offers a more timely meeting environment. During this pandemic, it offers patients the flexibility and security that if they are ill, or immunocompromised, they still have access to a provider, and ultimately healthcare they may need, all without having to leave their home, or potentially be exposed to other individuals that may get them sick.

Can telehealth also be used for patients to communicate with their family members outside of the hospital?

We are living in a unique time where there are varying levels of visitor restrictions in place for hospitalized patients. At times we have not allowed any visitors for the safety of our patients and our caretakers. Telehealth has allowed family members to communicate with their loved ones while being hospitalized with these restrictions in place.

Is patient information safe when using telehealth?

Yes. The same requirements for patient privacy and confidentiality that apply to in-person visits apply to telehealth visits. The telehealth platforms that are utilized at EIRMC are vetted and approved as HIPAA-compliant. 

How can telehealth benefit?

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) is a regional facility. We treat many rural areas. Telehealth allows us to overcome these geographic barriers. The ability to provide telehealth significantly improves access to care that wouldn't be there otherwise. It also alleviates a cost burden of travel for many patients that have to travel far to see specialists.