Pandemic speeds the push for telemedicine in Roaring Fork Valley
New Basalt business provides the facilities needed for remote, real-time consultations with medical specialists
Even in normal times, telemedicine has the potential to transform how patients receive medical care in rural areas like the Roaring Fork Valley that don’t have always have the same access to specialists as urban centers.
But these aren’t normal times. Add the coronavirus pandemic to the mix and telemedicine simply makes good sense.
In the Roaring Fork Valley, a new business called Sentia opened in November with an office in the Midvalley Medical Center to offer telecommunications technology needed for the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients.
“There is nothing like this in the valley,” said Dr. Natasha Knight, an OB/GYN physician and one of the partners in the new business. “We’re hoping to fill the needs of the valley. It’s in its infancy but growing.”
She and her team started working with the technology while caring for a high-risk patient. They were able to tap into outside expertise to come up with a care plan. Sentia’s services include performing an ultrasound in its office and sharing the remote real-time image with a specialist. The specialist can consult via a high-tech screen in Sentia’s care room or conference room. The system is sort of like Zoom on steroids.
It can eliminate the need for Roaring Fork Valley residents to negotiate Interstate 70 to catch an appointment with a specialist in Denver. While the pandemic remains a risk, it reduces personal contact and the possible spread of COVID-19.
“Travel in the high country can be extremely difficult during the winter months or even in the summer during construction or high tourist travel,” Knight said. “During this current pandemic, COVID exposure in large medical centers, hotels and restaurants is concerning. With the onset of the second and worse wave of the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has moved to the forefront of the provision of medical care.”
Sentia’s staff or patients’ primary care providers can arrange telemedicine consultations with a specialist. Some examples of the services are obstetric, gynecologic and vascular imaging. Sentia also offers telemedicine facility rental.
Knight said Sentia’s target markets include health care professionals, primary care providers and ancillary service providers. It’s also for any patient who wants the services while maintaining their relationship with their primary provider and specialists or those who develop new-patient consultations with sub-specialists.
Knight said Sentia works with most major insurance carriers and will work with patients without coverage. Sentia can be reached at 970-718-2060.
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