Getting medical care in rural areas of Idaho just got a lot easier.
Saint Luke's hospital has unveiled the first virtual hospital in the region.
It uses technology to make the miles between patient and doctor disappear.
"The reality is there are not enough physicians to provide proper care in every rural community," says Dr. Eric Rich, Saint Luke's telehealth medical director.
So, Saint Luke's set up dozens of these pods called virtual care stations to reach those communities virtually.
One element of the service provides specialist care to patients who only have a primary care doctor.
"The care we're providing is stabilizing, resuscitating, and advising the physician at the bedside in the hospital," says Rich
Emergency care can also be provided on-line.
This is what the video feed would look like to the physicians from Saint Luke's.
They can look in on a remote doctors office or clinic to interact with a patient and doctor.
But regular care can also be monitored through remote patient management.
"Our goal is to let people live more independent while they manage chronic illness," says krista stadler, Saint Luke's telehealth services senior director.
An I-pad and sensor equipment can send vitals on a regular basis to nurses at Saint Luke's.
Eventually Saint Luke's will have 350 medical professionals manning these virtual pods 24-7.
But the system is already online and operating.
Saint Luke's virtual care center will help rural patients in Idaho as well as Eastern Oregon.