Geography no longer prevents access to Idaho’s top doctors, thanks to regional telehealth services at St. Luke’s.
St. Luke’s Virtual Care Center is one of just a few in the nation, bringing vital medical access to patients in rural and often-underserved communities as well as metropolitan areas. Virtual technology allows St. Luke’s to reach people when and where they need us, with care that’s convenient and close to home.
The $3.4 million center is a high-tech hub where a centralized medical team uses technology with a human touch to care for patients around-the-clock at clinics, hospitals and homes throughout Idaho and Eastern Oregon.
Virtual care, also called telehealth or telemedicine, uses technology to connect a patient in one location with a health care provider in a separate, often distant location.
At the Virtual Care Center, specialists in Boise use the latest live, two-way cameras and remote monitoring equipment to diagnose and treat patients hundreds of miles and many mountain passes away. At remote hospitals and clinics, the center’s doctors and nurses monitor patients’ vital signs, closely watch critical patients to support onsite caregivers, order tests as needed, read results, and provide the expertise of specialists who can immediately evaluate patients.
In a patient’s home, providers can continuously monitor vital signs like heart rate, blood sugar and oxygen levels in real time. The result is a better quality of life, fewer trips to the emergency department, and patients living on their own at home much longer.
Patients go to their local clinic to connect remotely with a specialist via two-way, audio/video and asynchronous communication. Current specialties include urology, nephrology, pediatric specialty programs and sleep medicine, with more to come. The remote visit may also involve a primary care physician or other health care providers such as diabetes educators, registered dietitians, pharmacists and social workers.
Patients and their bedside care teams in other St. Luke’s hospitals and remote, critical-access facilities receive specialty care and decision support. With live, interactive audio/visual capabilities, patients, providers, and families connect in real time. Current services include intensive care and neurology.
Remote patient management uses devices to connect patients in the home with doctors, nurses and other care providers. In addition to providing secure two-way audio/video communication, these devices also collect and report vital readings and measurements, as well as information about symptoms and well-being on a daily basis, for the health care provider to review and discuss with the patient.