November 03, 2016
Cardiovascular Care Can Benefit from Telehealth
By Casey Houser
Even cardiovascular care has made its way into telehealth.
A recently published survey piece at Cardiovascular Business examines the effort of Greg Mazanek, a medical doctor at St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis. He, like many others, has found a spot in remote medicine because of its ability to help patients who may have a difficult time reaching primary care centers and top-tier physicians.
Mazanek’s days as a physician, the CB review states, may start and end with encrypted video links to patients who live in remote towns such as Brazil, IN – about an hour’s drive from Indianapolis but populous enough (8,000 residents) to show a high demand for cardiovascular care. Brazil has its own primary care facility, but as the town’s population suggests, it cannot support a full-time cardiologist. That’s where Mazanek’s presence comes into play.
He has started a pilot program at St. Vincent that uses, like the thousands of other telemedicine operations in places across the U.S., video links and email to give patients a link to their doctors. In the case of these patients at St. Vincent, the program is being used to help patients understand their options regarding surgery or other advanced care that could require a physical trip to the heart of Mazanek’s big city.
Cardiologists in remote facilities can analyze the spoken or written testimonials of patients through email and through formal surveys. They can use video to imitate in-person visits. Furthermore, they can utilize the readings of Internet-connected medical devices such as cardiac monitors that provide detailed readings of a patient’s health from afar.
This type of report at CB is not novel. In fact, it is part of a trend of reports that sites such as TMC (News - Alert) have become known for in the past several years. TMC has written about the spread of telemedicine to Canada and its ability to harness new information technology standards such as WebRTC, which can bolster medical facilities that face staffing shortages. It is expected that the demands of telemedicine will move hospitals into heavier use of software, electronic medical records, and analytics because of their collective impact on the care of local and remote patients.
Mazanek and staff have seen success in their pilot program. Still, they must jump over some hurdles that face all early adopters such as billing, scheduling, and handling of insurance claims. Mazanek spoke positively about the program and the fit it has at St. Vincent, but he discouraged its use as a panacea. His opinion is that care centers must look beyond the marketing and see telemedicine for what it has to offer and not as a fix for any and all healthcare situations.
Edited by Alicia Young