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Red Cross turns to telehealth to improve disaster relief

Steve Rogerson
November 7, 2016

The Red Cross is adopting telehealth technology to deliver remote medical care to communities in the USA that are significantly affected by disasters. The technology comes from New York-based Teladoc.
Through this pilot collaboration, Teladoc will make its network of physicians available to people helped by the Red Cross whose access to health care providers has been limited or is unavailable after large-scale disasters.
Teladoc’s virtual physician visit services will be made available via web, mobile app and phone to address the primary health care needs of individuals affected by disasters. The consultations will make it possible for disaster victims to access needed health services during events in which distance and time are important factors.
“Telehealth is on track to play a major role in the future of disaster risk reduction,” said Mary Casey-Lockyer, American Red Cross senior associate for disaster health services. “Our alliance with the Teladoc team provides the opportunity to advance towards that goal. It is our hope that this collaboration will serve as a conduit towards closing a gap in services during events, as well as in the days, weeks and months afterward.”
Teladoc provides a care alternative to urgent care and emergency room visits to treat common, uncomplicated medical conditions, particularly in medically-underserved and geographically remote communities with significant shortages of health care providers.
“Teladoc is extremely proud to be part of the first formal telehealth partnership with the Red Cross, a collaboration that exemplifies the Teladoc mission of significantly improving access to high-quality health care services,” said Stephany Verstraete, chief marketing officer of Teladoc. “Our team comes to work every day with the goal of further revolutionising how consumers use health care. Through these efforts, we strive to make positive changes for our clients, our members and our communities.”
In the past, Teladoc has donated remote medical care following local disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, which recently struck the south-east USA. In partnership with the Red Cross, Teladoc will expand its disaster relief efforts while also encouraging similar generosity among stakeholders, including Teladoc employees, who will be able to donate time and other resources to the Red Cross through Teladoc Cares, the company’s employee volunteer initiative.
Serving some 6000 clients – including health plans, health systems, employers and other organisations – more than 15 million members can use phone, mobile devices and secure online video to connect within minutes to Teladoc’s network of more than 3100 board-certified, state-licensed physicians and behavioural health specialists around the clock.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 per cent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organisation that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public to perform its mission.