Telemedicine Options Improve for IHS & VA Patients

Briana Wipf | Great Falls Tribune | June 25, 2013

Editor’s Note: For more about telemedicine in Montana, read the cover story of My Health or find it on the Web at

Connecting patients in rural locations with providers hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away continues to be a challenge for Indian Health Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but one that coordinators say it’s worth it for patient care and cost savings.

According to Tony Fisher, telehealth coordinator at the Billings Area Office for Indian Health Service, telemedicine has been available for IHS patients for about 10 years. But not since the last three or so years has it really taken off, he said.

“In the last three years, we’ve really been trying to create a formal telehealth program, and our first steps on that was trying to get the equipment and work really hard to get bandwidth adequate at all facilities,” Fisher explained.