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In The News

True Health clients get access to phone-in clinics

By Marie C. Baca, Journal Staff Writer

Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 12:48pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Starting Friday, the 40,000 individuals insured under True Health New Mexico and New Mexico Health Connections will have access to a new, free “virtual clinic” service.

To access the service, members call the nurse hotline number on the back of their insurance cards and are screened by a nurse who can determine whether the member’s issues are appropriate for the virtual clinic visit. If so, the member is connected with a doctor, who can diagnose non-emergency issues and prescribe medications that are neither narcotics nor behavioral health medications.

In an interview, Dr. Kiko Torres, True Health’s senior medical director, said the company expects most of the virtual clinic visits to revolve around symptoms related to issues like cold, flu, urinary tract infections, rashes and ear infections.
“In medicine, if you can listen well and take a good history, you can get a good diagnosis most of the time,” said Torres. “In the case of strep throat, for example, if a patient has a sore throat but they also have significant respiratory-type systems, we know it’s probably not strep. If the case gets to be a little more complex, a patient can be referred to a (brick-and-mortar) clinic.”

Torres also said the service will be particularly useful for rural members who have more limited access to care than their metro-area counterparts.

The virtual clinic, enabled through a partnership with Florida-based telehealth provider MDLIVE, is one of many telehealth options increasingly being offered by New Mexico health care systems. Torres said such services, in addition to being “a great tool and resource for members,” also help decrease unneeded emergency room visits. Those visits are a significant cost for health systems.

Torres said all the doctors who will see patients through the virtual clinic are board certified and licensed to practice in New Mexico.