Community in Action
Examples of programs, policies, and tools in action.

Telemental health strengthens access to care for remote residents

October 14, 2015

Year-round residents of Catalina Island off the coast of California had to travel an hour by boat to the mainland, at a cost of $70 per trip, to access specialty care, until a telemedicine network was created to provide access to specialty care services, including telepsychiatry.

The Catalina Island Medical Center (CIMC) collaborated with private and public sector partners to create a telemedicine network to provide specialty care to the rural city of Avalon, founded a satellite clinic on the island’s isolated West End, and then expanded the telemedicine network there. In addition to telepsychiatry, the network initially offered diabetes education courses and retinal imaging screenings, later adding pain management and endocrinology services. CIMC also entered into an agreement with the Veterans Medical Center of Long Beach to provide telehealth services to the island’s vets so they don’t have to travel to the mainland for their primary care, neurology, or psychiatry services.

CIMC’s interactive telehealth programs currently serve at least 35 patients a month, with an additional 100+ digital radiology images sent to a group of radiologists on the mainland for readings each month. Patient satisfaction for CIMC’s telehealth programs continues to be high.

To learn more about Catalina Island’s telemedicine network, visit the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) summary of the project. To connect with program staff, contact Dawn Sampson, Director of Social Services—Catalina Island Medical Center, at (310) 510-0520 or [email protected].

Communities in Action provide examples of strategies or tools in action. Their purpose is to connect like-minded communities in their implementation efforts, giving insight into how others are tackling key challenges and what they've accomplished. To learn more about the evidence supporting this strategy's effectiveness or resources to help move towards implementation, see the What Works for Health summary of Telemental health services.

Date added: October 15, 2015