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With RWJBarnabas Health Telemed, A Doctor Can Be Available 24/7.

Health needs have a way of happening at inconvenient times. You’re on a business trip and forgot a prescription. It is after hours and your doctor’s office is closed. Your family is on vacation and you have a sick child. Or you’re simply too sick to get out of bed. For those situations and more, RWJBarnabas Health TeleMed now offers telemedicine—medical care available through a smartphone, tablet or computer—for urgent needs, or for people who feel they just don’t have time to visit a doctor.

"At RWJBarnabas Health, we’ve been doing telemedicine for a long time in specific specialty services,” says Amy Mansue, President, Southern Region, RWJBH. “For example, when very fragile babies are sent home, telemedicine lets doctors and nurses see a baby in real time if parents have a concern.”

The rollout of the broader RWJBarnabas Health TeleMed program to the general public follows a successful pilot program with the system’s 30,000 employees. “We know that telemedicine is not a onesize-fits-all solution for every demographic,” Mansue says. “But we also know that people’s lives are increasingly time-pressed, and that we’re in a world of one-click expectations when it comes to service.

“Our job is to find ways to get people access to the services they need, at the right level of care, at the time they need it.”

HOW IT WORKS

Once enrolled, patients can log in at any time of night or day for a videoconference with one of the on-call, U.S. board-certified physicians. There’s a flat fee of $45, payable by credit card at the time of service. (Many private insurance plans cover telemedicine, and in New Jersey, state-funded health insurance plans are required to, as long as certain standards are met.) RWJBarnabas Health TeleMed is secure and compliant with HIPAA, a federal law that sets standards for, among other things, the privacy of health information.

The doctor at the other end of the camera can assess symptoms, look at the area in question and make a judgment as to whether follow-up tests are needed. Though telemedicine is not meant to replace a patient’s relationship with his or her primary care doctor, “we do know that there are people who don’t have access to primary care, or don’t go routinely,” Mansue says. “This is a way to connect them with healthcare.”

Older patients may find telemedicine easier to adopt because long-distance healthcare has become common for chronic conditions, such as checking pacemakers or heart monitors over the phone. Younger patients, on the other hand, may actually prefer telemedicine to the in-person kind. “One study showed that 70 percent of people under age 35 had accessed medical care through telemedicine,” Mansue says. “They do everything through their phones— create relationships, order pizza—so it feels natural to do healthcare that way as well.”

Ultimately, the goal for RWJBarnabas Health TeleMed is for physicians to be able to access, with patient permission, a patient’s entire medical record in order to help make better diagnoses. “That’s an aspirational goal right now, because electronic medical record systems don’t communicate between themselves as well as they need to yet,” Mansue says. “But the technology improves every year.”

To enroll or learn more about RWJBarnabas Health TeleMed, powered by American Well, visit www.rwjbh.org/telemed, or download the app at the App Store or Google Play.