Telehealth is Helping the Underserved
For many uninsured and underinsured patients in Yuba City, Calif., seeing a rheumatologist used to mean taking a day off from work and driving 108 miles, roundtrip, to the University of California Davis Medical Center.
That changed this year when patients were offered the option of having a telemedicine consultation with a rheumatologist as part a pilot project between the MAVEN (Medical Alumni Volunteer Expert Network) Project and Ampla Health, a nonprofit network of community-based Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).
Launched in 2014 by Laurie Green, MD, a San Francisco obstetrician-gynecologist, MAVEN links retired rheumatologists and other specialists to clinics and organizations in underserved communities through telehealth technology.
“Today, one in 15 people in this country receive medical care from local Community Health Centers (CHCs) that specifically serve uninsured, low-income or geographically distanced patients,” Dr. Green says. “Many of these patients receive basic care at CHCs, but specialty medical services continue to be beyond their reach.”