- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A large group of independent physicians in Nebraska plans to enter the growing practice of telehealth.

The Midwest Independent Physicians Practice Association will begin using video-audio consultations for patients who need to see a specialist but live too far away to conveniently do so in person, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1qqALI8 ) reported. The Omaha-based association is composed of about 450 primary care physicians and specialists in the state who aren’t tied to a specific hospital system.

The agreement between the association and technology company AET will give physicians a web-based platform for the appointments and the secure exchange of patient records and data.

The initiative is the latest example of the boom in the use of medical services that don’t require in-person appointments. The main Omaha and Lincoln hospitals systems offer similar services.

Mary DeVany, director of telehealth with Nebraska Medicine, said institutions and individuals have increasingly recognized telemedicine’s value.

“Telehealth has been around in many shapes or forms for 20 years,” DeVany said. “It’s really become something that is expected and used on a daily basis.”

Dr. Gamini Soori, the association’s CEO and a cancer specialist, said that patients push for telehealth because they don’t want to travel far, sit in waiting rooms and miss time at work because of an appointment.

“This is going to be the health care of the future,” Soori said. “It is not going to be a flash in the pan.”

The association began enrolling physicians in the initiative last week. Patients will typically pay the same fee they would if they’d visited a specialist in person.

Dr. Rebecca McCrery, an Omaha urogynecologist, participated in the association’s pilot project, conducting several appointments by telemedicine with patients in Norfolk.

“It just makes the specialist more accessible,” McCrery said.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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