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Video Chat with a Specialist

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MACOMB, Ill. – A scenario that is becoming more common throughout the United States. A patient gets admitted to a healthcare facility but during their stay it turns out they need to see a specialist not available in that area. Thanks to technology available at MDH, patients may not have to get transferred to another facility to see a particular specialist… they could join a secured video call.

MDH joined a new trend sweeping healthcare across the country - TeleHealth. This newer service allows inpatients to not have to travel long distances – or transfer hospitals – to see a medical specialist say two hours away. A secured video call (similar to Skype or FaceTime) can put that specialist right in the same room.

“It gives the patients an opportunity to see a specialist we do not have on our staff. We can usually arrange these (appointments) in a short amount of time. Hopefully within 24 hours we can get a specialist a patient might need to actually see the patient on (a TeleHealth) video. We have the ability to let them examine the patient with a lot of devices, including a stethoscope to listen to their heart and lungs,” said MDH Hospitalist Dr. Jack McPherson. “We can send the specialist all the information we have electronically so they can see all the patients’ vital signs, all their lab work, and all their x-rays.

“We can provide data like EKG reports so they have a full armamentarium of what the patient had done. It gives them a chance to talk so they can do a history with the patient. They can do a fairly extensive exam. Our nurse and/or I would attend these interviews so if they wanted to exam an abdomen or feel a pulse in the foot we could do that for them as well,” stated McPherson.

MDH has performed TeleHealth inpatient consults already. The services are starting to expand though as TeleHealth for Senior Behavioral Health inpatients began Thursday (June 21).

“The TeleHealth cart has many capabilities. The monitor screen is high resolution… they can see the patient, the monitor, other family members or the other physician in the room. The patient will see and be able to speak to the physician on the other end, and the physician on the other end will also be able to interview the patient and ask questions of our physician here,” said Jolyn Utter, CCRN Hospitalist Nurse Coordinator. “The camera can move pretty much all around the room. We can focus in on the patient. We can focus on the monitor itself - so if we had a heart rhythm, their oxygen saturation or whatever the physician needed to see we can focus the camera on whatever is most important.”

Five patient rooms are currently available for TeleHealth use. In addition, all the ICU rooms are wired for the service and another room is available in the cardiopulmonary department. The current schedule for consults is Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

McPherson noted the speed of using the service and quick turnaround time, all while this service can help the hospital grow.

“We usually get a fairly quick opinion about what they think about the patient’s problems and what can be done… It (TeleHealth) works out to be a good experience for us and a good opportunity for the patient not to travel somewhere. The more we can do here we would prefer to do here,” stated McPherson. “We have the technology, we have some staff trained to do this and we can expand that training. We have to get physicians attuned to the fact this is available so they start thinking about this as an option rather than getting on the phone and sending patients elsewhere. Let’s get someone on the phone and bring somebody to the patients.”

For more information about MDH or the Hospitalist program, visit