Commuting, traffic, parking, and sitting in a waiting room can all be avoided with virtual healthcare, a convenient and innovative way of delivering care that many patients and clinicians are embracing. With telehealth, the ability to offer a broad scope of remote health care services, patients can easily access clinicians via phone visits, emails, online and through their smart phones.
Integrated video visits (IVVs), in particular, are becoming a popular alternative to the traditional in-person doctor’s visit. At Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles and its newest Santa Monica Medical Office on Tenth Street and Broadway, integrated video visits are allowing patients to access healthcare at their convenience.
More than 300 Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles patients have already experienced integrated video visits in a variety of medical areas, including Psychiatry, Orthopedics, Pediatrics and Physical Medicine.
Telehealth is about providing the right care, at the right time, in the right setting. “From the member standpoint it’s very convenient. It improves overall access to healthcare, allowing patients to schedule appointments when it’s convenient for them,” says James Parks, M.D. in Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles. He says it’s especially convenient for members who have unconventional work schedules or who can’t easily leave work to get to a doctor’s appointment. He says that one of his patients, a security guard, had difficulty getting an appointment around her work schedule. “Now she sees me on her smart phone during her lunch breaks,” Parks says.
Physical Medicine is another area that is conducive to telehealth offerings. Now patients can receive physical therapy programs prescribed by their physicians virtually, according to Gus Kalioundji M.D., a physician in Physical Medicine at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.
He says telehealth benefits a wide range of patients – from young to old. One of his patients, a surfer in Santa Monica who needs physical therapy but would rather skip the commute to see the doctor, now gets his home physical therapy rehabilitation exercise regimen e-mailed to him. “Not only does this save him a commute, but this way he can replay the exercises many times if he needs to,” Kalioundji says.
Virtual care also benefits clinicians. “It allows us to be more flexible in when we can offer care,” says Parks, adding that it also enables fewer delays, which increases his efficiency and ability to care for more patients. “It’s really on the cutting edge and it’s the right thing to offer our members.”
Kaiser Permanente is continually innovating and testing new services in video, mobile, and clinical settings to expand access to care for its members. For information on the the Santa Monica medical office and its telehealth offerings, visit www.kp.org/santamonica.