‘Telehealth’ can save patients from follow-up doctor visits

Telehealth, using technology such as smartphones, tablets and videoconferencing to track medical conditions and talk with health care providers, is touted as the wave of the future.

But few in Lane County have experienced it, except in its most basic form of picking up the phone to get advice from a nurse or to refill a prescription.

While some patients of area health care providers, such as Kaiser Permanente or PeaceHealth, may have encountered some telehealth services, the most tech-savvy patients of all probably are local veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was an early adopter of telehealth in the 1990s, which it saw as a way to link veterans to medical help when and where they needed it.

Like most VA facilities around the country, the new veterans clinic in northeast Eugene has telehealth equipment enabling health care providers to check a patient’s vital signs, conduct an electrocardiogram and examine a patient’s skin, ears and eyes.