OnMed telehealth station now open for use
Milam County took a step into the future with the opening of the OnMed telehealth station to the public on Oct. 1.
County residents can now receive urgent and after-hours medical care at the first-of-its kind telemedicine station.
Texas A&M University Health Science Center has teamed with Florida-based OnMed to open the station in Cameron.
The station is located in the Milam County Sheriff’s Department at 512 North Jefferson in Cameron. It provides a safe and secure place for doctor’s visits. Hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plans are ongoing to open the station for more hours in the future.
Rural hospitals in the United States have been closing at a record pace in recent years, making it hard for rural residents to find urgent and emergency care. The telemedicine station is part of a project to help find solutions to that.
“This telemedicine station is the embodiment of technical innovations designed specifically to improve rural access to care and enhance the patient experience,” Dr. Joy Alonzo, the project’s principal investigator and professor at the Texas A&M College of Pharmacy said. “This will be the first of many or these in rural Texas hopefully.”
County commissioners approved the installation of the station in May.
The implementation of the OnMed station by Texas A&M Health is part of the Moonshot Research Project, a series of rural health innovations implemented by Texas A&M Health with support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. These innovations are designed to support collaborative care and healthy communities by targeting health care challenges facing rural and underserved populations in Texas. By exploring novel ways to solve rural health care problems, Texas A&M hopes to answer questions about how to deliver high quality care in rural areas that is financially sustainable and provides a template for best practices across rural America.
“This is huge for Milam County,” Milam County Judge Steve Young said. “We have no hospital, we have no urgent care, we have no emergency room. This fills the void we’ve had in this county for a long time. The technology of this thing is so far advanced and it’s easy to use. You can walk in, push one button, up comes the doctor and you get a diagnosis, a prognosis and even your medication.”
The OnMed Station provides patients with a live virtual consultation with a licensed clinician who can make a diagnosis and prescribe medications.
Features of the station include: vitals like height, weight and blood pressure; thermal imaging to provide body temperature and diagnose infection; readings of respiration and blood oxygen saturation; a FDA approved high-definition camera so physicians can conduct visual assessments; and transmission of results to the patient’s primary care physician.
After every visit the OnMed Station is thoroughly cleaned using high-output ultraviolet surface and air sanitization.
A visit to the station will cost $65. Insurance is not accepted at this time, but may be at a later date.
While the OnMed station addresses access to health care in rural areas, Alonzo said this game-changing innovation could also help with a health crisis such as the current coronavirus pandemic.
“This station can provide same-day and after-hours doctor’s visits that are not urgent without exposing high-risk patients or tying up critical resources in emergency rooms,” Alonzo said. “It’s an ideal complement to the existing network of outpatient clinics.”
Austin White, founding partner and CEO of OnMed said this is the perfect example of how technology should be used to address the most pressing health care needs of our time.
“Our stations can be located where they are needed most and go well beyond just a phone call,” White said. “OnMed offers a live face-to-face visit using the latest diagnostic tools. It’s transformative technology that improves access to quality of care.”
White said that this could one day be a blueprint for how health care is administered throughout the country in rural areas and it will all have begun in Milam County.
“I want to thank everyone who came out today and everyone who has stopped by for a demonstration over the last months,” Young said. “The station will be an invaluable aid in our need for medical treatment and we hope you will take advantage of it. If it is not used, it may be re-located to another state.”
Drayton McLane, Wayne Fisher, Congressman Bill Flores, Sen. Charles Schwertner and Rep. Terry Wilson were all on hand for a quick tour and a personal demonstration of the station during an opening on Sept. 30.
“We want to give a special thanks to our fine Milam County Sheriff Chris White for placing the station in his secure 24-hour lobby,” Young said. “And of course, a special thanks to Dr. Joy Alonzo and to all our friends at Texas A&M for selecting Milam County and to Austin White of OnMed for developing such an advance innovative medical device.”