OakBend Medical Center has set up the latest technology in telemedicine at its Wharton hospital. This innovative way of caring for patients uses a combination of telecommunication and information technology to provide patients clinical health care even when the specialist is not in the same room or at the same location. This allows physicians, like OakBend Medical Group’s Dr. Long Cao, a preventative cardiologist, to see patients via telemedicine and determine if they need to be admitted to the hospital or if there is another plan of action that should be taken. The patient has an office visit without going to the doctor’s office.
Telemedicine, especially in rural areas, can help save lives and prevent unnecessary admittance into the hospital. It brings the specialist to the patient, even when they are miles away. It can also help EMS understand the patient’s needs while being transported to a hospital.
The telemedicine cart is on wheels and can be moved around the hospital to be at the patient’s bedside or to be in an area where the patient can be seen in private. The cart allows the doctor (with the help of a technician) to see the patient via camera. The doctor can access the patient’s chart and with the telemedicine machine is able to not only listen to the heart, but view the heart’s rhythm. Additionally the machine has attachments for viewing eyes, ears, throat and epidermis. The doctor also has access to all of the patient’s records so that there is no lag in care.
OakBend has been using telemedicine in Wharton for approximately a month and has seen more than 20 patients. And, while the hospital is currently focusing on cardio telemedicine, it plans to move into other specialties in the near future and to bring telemedicine to both the Jackson Street campus and the Williams Way campus.
“Using telemedicine allows us to bring our specialists right to our patients. They no longer need to drive to our main campus in Richmond; they are able to go to our Wharton hospital and do a consultation from there,” stated Joe Freudenberger, CEO of OakBend Medical Center. “We are extremely proud of this new technology and the potential it has for streamlining patient care and preventing unnecessary hospital stays.”
The patient will have a telemedicine appointment with the doctor, just like they would have for office visits and most insurance providers are now viewing telemedicine as if it were an office visit.