Local clinics offer telemedicine to patients

Assessments done over the phone, Zoom; offered services include primary care, mental health assistance



Pullman Regional Hospital’s primary care clinic, which includes Pullman family medicine and Palouse pediatrics behavioral health, are offering telemedicine services due to COVID-19.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Palouse River Counseling, Pullman Regional Hospital and WSU’s Cougar Health Services offer telemedicine services due to COVID-19. 

Megan Guido, Pullman Regional Hospital chief marketing and community relations officer, said telemedicine is utilized through video or telephone where patients can consult with a physician at a clinical level.  

Guido said the primary care clinic, which includes Pullman family medicine and Palouse pediatrics and behavioral health, is offering telemedicine services due to COVID-19. 

She said telemedicine for behavioral health was being used before COVID-19 and that the governor’s stay-at-home order prompted the use of telemedicine services.

Patients are encouraged to call their doctor’s office first so that they can get an assessment on the phone about whether they should be seen in person or through the phone, Guido said. 

Ellen Taylor, WSU Cougar Health Services executive director, said Cougar Health Services did not have telemedicine before COVID-19, but that the pandemic made it clear Cougar Health Services needed to provide telehealth quickly.  

There have been conversations about the continued use of telemedicine after the pandemic and  how to integrate telemedicine through the WSU system, Taylor said. 

Mike Berney, Palouse River Counseling executive director, said telemedicine is also referred to as telehealth. The counseling center is offering mental health services to patients. 

Berney said the pros of telemedicine is that it is convenient for the client because they do not have to come into the clinic. 

The cons of telemedicine is that doctors are not able to read the body language of a patient, he said. There is no relationship between the client and the doctor, especially when there is a new client Berney said. 

Berney said that insurance companies are charging telemedicine at the same rate as a face to face appointment.

“The world may be on pause but people’s healthcare shouldn’t be,” Guido said.