fbpx
 
IHS announced on Wednesday, April 8, the expansion of its telehealth service. Courtesy photo.

ROCKVILLE, Md. Patients who use the Indian Health Service (IHS) system can now have an appointment with a healthcare provider from the luxury of their own homes.

IHS today launched expanded telehealth service across its federal facilities. Telehealth allows patients and health-care providers to connect via phone and computer, reducing risk of infection for patients as well as providers and others in waiting rooms and emergency departments.  

The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how important it is to be able to reach your healthcare team,” said Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee, IHS principal deputy director. “Telehealth will further protect our patients and employees by expanding services and increasing access to care, while doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

To build comfort level and security purposes, IHS service units around the country and their clinicians must obtain verbal consent from patients who participate electronically via a telehealth appointment. Health care providers must verify the patient’s identity at the start of each session and are not authorized to record the encounter.

On March 27, IHS issued guidance that allowed clinicians to use certain additional, non-public facing audio or video communications technologies to augment all clinical activities related to providing care to patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This applied to telehealth provided for any clinical reason, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19.

Telehealth also gives providers access to services from locations other than hospitals and clinics, as in the case of self-quarantined clinicians. Providers can continue to practice medicine and remain available to their patients. They can also consult with their colleagues across the Indian health system.

The new service was tested at six IHS sites in Oklahoma City and on the Navajo Nation.

IHS is using the Cisco Meeting system and has the ability to share lessons learned. IHS then began training IHS employees across the agency on how to use the system. Cisco Meeting is a secure system that encrypts audio and video communications. IHS recognizes the importance of protecting the personally identifiable information and has built a robust program to safeguard this information.

The Cisco Meeting infrastructure is already used for telehealth in IHS, most commonly by the Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence as well as the Albuquerque, Billings and Great Plains Areas.

The Cisco Meeting infrastructure is already used for telehealth in IHS, most commonly by the Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence as well as the Albuquerque, Billings and Great Plains Areas.

How to help Native News Online: Send us news. Sign up for our daily enewsletter. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our articles. You can also donate to Native News Online here. Most importantly, take care of yourself. Megwetch.

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (June 26, 2022): D.C. Briefs
Native Bidaské with Connie Johnson, Candidate in Oklahoma's Gubernatorial Primary
President Biden Signs New Gun Law Aimed to Keep Guns Away from Dangerous People
Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Indian Country Responds
President Biden Nominates Patrice Kunesh for Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.