Intermountain Healthcare Expands TeleHealth and Connect Care Services to Help Combat COVID-19 While Preventing Spread

Intermountain Healthcare is extending its clinical expertise to all areas of the state and beyond with TeleHealth infectious disease consultations to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. 

The Intermountain Connect Care virtual care service allows residents to be screened by a medical professional from the comfort of their home, without potentially exposing others. Much like Facetime or Skype, Connect Care visits are conducting via a secure televideo call between the patient and an Intermountain caregiver.

If individuals are concerned they might have the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, Intermountain Healthcare is encouraging them to reach out via this technology first rather than making a visit to their doctor’s office.

“The number of people accessing these services has skyrocketed in the past two weeks,” said Kerry Palakanis, DNP, APRN, executive director of Intermountain Connect Care. “Using Connect Care is just like seeing a healthcare provider at an urgent care facility like an InstaCare, except you can do it from anywhere, at any time. No appointment is necessary, and your regular Intermountain doctor can see a record of your visit.” 

Using Connect Care is easy.
 1. Download the app to your smart phone for free from the iTunes or the Google Play Store 
 2. Create an account. It takes only a few steps and is done in minutes. Your information is then stored securely for all future online visits.
 3. Choose the provider that works best for you.

Palakanis says a regular Connect Care visit costs $59 or less depending on your insurance (which is not required), and can help with: 

 • Stuffy and runny nose
 • Allergies
 • Sore throat
 • Eye infections
 • Cough
 • Painful urination
 • Lower back pain
 • Joint pain or strains
 • Minor skin problems

Intermountain currently has ten TeleHealth specialty programs, including critical care, oncology, mental health, neuro and stroke, wound care, and infectious disease.

“TeleHealth is an integrated part of how we deliver care at Intermountain Healthcare,” said Todd J. Vento, MD, medical director of Intermountain Infectious Disease TeleHealth. “From hospitals, to outpatient clinics, to patient homes, we use audio/video technology to connect clinicians with one another, keep patients closer to home and out of the hospital when possible, and remove traditional barriers so patients can get the specialized care they need, wherever they are.”

“Obviously physical exams or testing cannot be done via Connect Care,” said Palakanis. “But we are well equipped to diagnosis your risk of COVID-19. We use a screening assessment as suggested by the CDC to gauge your risk of the disease. We don’t charge for a screening but can help you to find a caregiver, if you need one.”

In addition to Connect Care, Intermountain is also offering a free Health Answers call-in line for the community. Health Answers can be reached by calling 844-501-6600.

“Concerned individuals can call to have basic questions answered by a healthcare provider, just without the video evaluation,” said Palakanis. 

“Currently, if you haven't traveled to an infected region where there is community spread or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk is low,” said Todd J. Vento, MD, Medical Director, Intermountain Infectious Disease TeleHealth. “If you are concerned, you can see your doctor or be screened by Intermountain Connect Care.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with severity ranging from mild to severe illness. In other coronaviruses, common signs of infection include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. Residents who think they may have coronavirus-like symptom can be screened using the service and then be advised on appropriate follow up care.

“If you do go to your primary care doctor, a clinic, or an InstaCare, we are asking that people call ahead and let them know about their travel and symptoms to limit potential exposure to others and avoid spreading the virus,” said Dr. Vento.

“We provide consultations to specialists from around the intermountain area from topics ranging from neonatal care to stroke, including infectious diseases like COVID-19” said Dr. Vento. “It doesn’t matter if you live in downtown Salt Lake, or rural southern Utah. The same level of specialty care and clinical expertise is extended to hospitals, clinics, and even patient homes.”

High definition cameras and microphones are used by medical specialists to evaluate, diagnosis, and suggest treatment for patients. 

“Smaller hospitals may not have the level of need for full-time specialty care, but by leveraging technology they can access our specialists any time they need it,” said Dr. Vento. 

For more information see Intermountain TeleHealth Services

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Intermountain Healthcare is extending its clinical expertise to all areas of the state and beyond with TeleHealth infectious disease consultations to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. 
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