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Patient FAQs

A: Telehealth — sometimes called telemedicine — is the use of electronic information, telecommunication technologies, and electronic devices to provide care when you and the provider are not in the same place at the same time. If you have a phone or a device with internet access, you probably already have everything you need to get care or services through telehealth. You may be able to:

  • Talk to your provider live by phone or video chat.
  • Send and receive messages from your provider using chat, email, secure messaging, and send files.
  • Use remote patient monitoring so your provider can check on you at home. For example, you might use a heart monitor or other devices to help your provider stay informed on your progress. (adapted from Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

NOTE: Telehealth services vary from clinic to clinic. Please talk with your provider about which services may be available.

A: There are many benefits of telehealth visits:

  • By limiting physical contact, everyone’s exposure to COVID-19 is reduced.
  • A Telehealth Visit can often be done in wherever patients are, even from home.
  • Telehealth visits may reduce or avoid travel. This can be helpful when there is bad weather or when time off from work may be difficult. Less travel also means less cost for you.
  • Telehealth can shorten wait times to see a provider.
  • Services that are not available at your local clinic maybe available using telehealth.
Telehealth is an effective way to receive care, but it may not a perfect fit for everyone or every medical condition. Make sure you discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your provider (from Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving ).

A: A variety of services may be available through telehealth. Your provider will decide whether telehealth is right for your health needs. Some possible telehealth services:

  • General health care, like wellness visits
  • Follow-Up and Check-In visits
  • Prescriptions for medicine
  • Dermatology (skin care)
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Behavioral Health services
  • Urgent care conditions, such as sinusitis, back pain, urinary tract infections, common rashes, etc.

NOTE: Available telehealth services vary widely by site. Please talk with your provider about which services may be available at your IHS clinic.

A: IHS has two national telehealth programs:

  • The IHS-Joslin Vision Network Teleophthalmology Program is dedicated to preventing diabetes-related blindness.
  • The mission of the IHS Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence (TBHCE) Telebehavioral Health Program is to provide, promote, and support the delivery of high-quality, culturally sensitive telebehavioral health services to American Indian/Alaska Native people.
There are also many telehealth programs based at the IHS Area and facility level. Additionally, IHS contracts with various telehealth companies to provide services in IHS facilities.

A: A. Many IHS facilities offer some telehealth services but the types of services vary widely. Check with your local facility to see if they provide telehealth services that would meet your needs. You can locate IHS facilities and contact information on the IHS Find Healthcare site.

A:Many patients with special needs such as deafness, autism, neurological challenges, and those who do not speak English may benefit from telehealth. Check with your local facility to see if your needs can be met with a telehealth visit.

A: A. At this time, patients must contact their local facility to see what kinds of telehealth services may be available and to schedule an appointment. You can locate IHS facilities and contact information on the IHS Find Healthcare site.

A: Yes. IHS uses equipment and software that ensure your telehealth appointment is private and confidential. The privacy of telehealth appointments at home may depend on who else is in the home.

A: Yes. The telehealth providers have access to your IHS Electronic Health Record (EHR) and the same healthcare information that your in-person provider has. During the appointment the provider will review your record and, if needed, write for prescriptions in your record.

A: Telehealth appointments are usually scheduled just like in-person appointments, so check with your local clinic or hospital.

A: Usually, any device with a good internet connection will work for telehealth. If you have trouble connecting you can contact someone the clinic or hospital for help.

If video telehealth visit won’t work, your provider may ask you to switch to a phone visit or to come into the clinic.