In Northern California, Sutter Health faces the challenge of providing specialty cardiac care to a growing number of patients miles from their healthcare facilities. Sutter set out to create an efficient remote telehealth model to connect cardiologists based out of Sacramento with patients who visit rural Amador County Clinics for ongoing cardiology services.
Sutter is an example of a straightforward clinic-clinic telemedicine implementation. Patients make appointments at their local clinic, and in the exam room, a medical assistant virtually connects the patient with their cardiologist who leads the exam and evaluates the patients’ heart function.
Sutter has improved patient compliance by reducing travel time for follow-up appointments. Tele-cardiology also allows Sutter to schedule more patient visits, because it is normally only staffed with a cardiologist one day per week. The previous two-hour commute to rural clinics have been eliminated for doctors and Sutter is now reimbursed for tele-cardiology with rural-site telemedicine codes.