UnitedHealthcare, Centura Health announce official launch of Connected Care in Colorado

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, and Centura Health, Colorado's largest health care provider, announced the official launch of Connected Care, giving patients in four rural Colorado communities expanded access to physicians and specialists using advanced telehealth technology.

“The goal of the Colorado Telehealth Network is to improve patient safety, increase access to care, reduce health care costs and allow providers to focus on the needs of the patient”

Connected Care clinics, which use advanced audio, video and medical technologies to link patients with Centura Health's network of physicians located hundreds of miles away, have started providing care at the following medical facilities in rural Colorado:

  • Buena Vista Family Practice in Buena Vista
  • High Plains Community Health Center in Lamar
  • Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte
  • St. Vincent General Hospital in Leadville

Patients at these four rural facilities will connect with physicians based in Denver, Littleton and Pueblo for both routine and specialty care services, creating an experience that feels as real as an in-person consultation. Connected Care is open to anyone. Many health insurers, including UnitedHealthcare, offer coverage for the telehealth services provided through the Connected Care program. Medicaid and Medicare health plans also cover some telehealth services, including follow-up care after an in-patient hospital stay or ongoing consultations after a cardiac procedure.

Patients can schedule telehealth appointments by phone or in person at the four rural locations, enabling them to connect remotely with Centura Health medical specialists at the following three facilities: St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver; Littleton Adventist Hospital in Littleton; and St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. Like the rural sites, the Centura Health sites also have been equipped with the Connected Care audio and video technology, including remote monitoring equipment such as digital stethoscopes and dermascopes.

"The launch of Connected Care helps eliminate distance as an obstacle to accessing needed health care in rural parts of Colorado," said Beth Soberg, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado. "These four sites, and the ones to follow, will build upon our state's current health care infrastructure and provide people in these locations with a more convenient way to receive quality care."

As many as 4,800 patient visits are expected to be made each year in Colorado via the Connected Care clinics, which are staffed by an in-person health care professional such as a nurse or medical attendant. The clinics will allow patients remote access to physicians specializing in several areas of care, including ear/nose/throat (ENT), gastroenterology, cardiology, critical care/pulmonology, neurosurgery, and pre- and post-surgery consultations.

"The Connected Care program is an example of how the public and private sectors can effectively work together in Colorado to improve the health and well-being of residents statewide," said Gov. Bill Ritter. "This impressive collaboration will help solve critical health care challenges and expand access to health care services in parts of rural Colorado."

Along with Centura Health, UnitedHealthcare also worked with Colorado's nonprofit State Office of Rural Health and the Colorado Community Health Network to select the four Connected Care sites. The services provided are among the first available via the Colorado Telehealth Network, a statewide fiber-optic network that will eventually connect more than 400 hospitals, clinics and other health care providers in Colorado.

"The goal of the Colorado Telehealth Network is to improve patient safety, increase access to care, reduce health care costs and allow providers to focus on the needs of the patient," said Steven J. Summer, CEO and president of the Colorado Hospital Association. "UnitedHealthcare's Connected Care program is a great example of the new possibilities that the CTN is helping to enable."

The Colorado program is also a key step in UnitedHealthcare's efforts to build a national telehealth network, with plans to establish additional sites in Colorado at federally qualified community health centers, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics and other Centura Health facilities. Connected Care will have several other programs launch this year, including in New Mexico and at on-site workplace clinics with employers.

"This program helps bring critical health care support to more places in Colorado, including locations where access to specialty care is often limited," said Gary Campbell, president and CEO of Centura Health. "With the advanced medical technology that the Connected Care program offers, we can expand our network of care to communities and families in rural areas of Colorado that desperately need quality and affordable health care services."




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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