Telemedicine: Reassuring Patients, Families and Doctors Alike

Mother and Daughter Being Reassured by Physician

When medical emergencies arise, we all hold the underlying expectation that the staff onsite at the hospital can provide needed care. But what happens when the required specialist isn’t in the building, or even on staff at the hospital? Many hospitals choose to staff telemedicine physicians, specialists and nurses in departments where they are short-staffed or where they lack on-premise expertise, reassuring patients, families and doctors alike.

The practice helps hospitals prepare for emergencies of all kinds by providing specialized doctors who stand ready to serve communities in need. While at first, some patients may fear being cared for by an offsite specialist, the reality is that behind every telemedicine consultation there’s an entire team working to ensure each patient receives the best care, and in a timely manner.

As technology has advanced, the difference between an onsite doctor and one connected through a telemedicine video conference is minimal.

All medicine and healing—whether the physician is physically in the room or on video—is based on one fundamental principle: trust. Patients want a doctor who understands their health history, is knowledgeable, and is going to make them better. This dynamic becomes even more critical in an acute setting where health concerns escalate, possibly even life or death. In-hospital telemedicine has become a widely accepted method of providing access to specialty doctors.  In many scenarios, the presence of a telemedicine specialist can reassure patients, families and onsite doctors alike.

Giving Patients Peace of Mind

The reality is this: when you visit a doctor or hospital, you want results. There are certain cases where the best care available—given the hospital itself and the type of medical scenario—will be provided by a telemedicine specialist.

Take, for example, a patient presenting in an emergency department with psychiatric issues. Many hospital ERs are staffed to treat illnesses, injuries and trauma, but not emergency mental health needs. It is commonplace for individuals suffering severe mental health emergencies to arrive at the ER seeking help.

Thanks to telePsychiatry, emergency departments can connect patients with an expert for consultation and evaluation. Many times, just the time spent in consultation with a telePsychiatrist is enough to alleviate the crisis for the patient. Family members and patients can trust that the appropriate inpatient or outpatient care plans will be created.

Improving Consent Among Families in Emergency Circumstances

For hospitals that provide stroke expertise via teleNeurology, the offering can bridge a critical gap between onsite staff and the families who must authorize the lifesaving, but potentially dangerous clot dissolving medicine, Alteplase (Activase®).

Often, the administration of Alteplase would not be possible but for the presence of a seasoned teleNeurologist helping first to diagnose the stroke and determine whether it is appropriate. Once determined, the specialist then helps to communicate the importance of the medicine under such critical and time-sensitive circumstances.

Families of stroke victims witness a cross-functional team working together onsite and with teleNeurologists to verify stroke symptoms, to chart time last known well, and to track on a whiteboard stroke indications or contraindications along with calculated Alteplase dosage. The process helps families understand the intricate work that goes to this life-saving procedure. The teleNeurologist outlines the facts of the case quickly and the need for specific courses of action. Families are armed with information and reassured that the right care is being given and are more likely to grant the consent needed for lifesaving measures.

Supporting Onsite Physicians with Expertise

Telemedicine also helps reassure onsite doctors and care staff that patients are receiving the highest level of care. The presence of teleIntensivists in critical care environments provides supportive expertise and guidance. These specialists are a valuable resource for hospitals seeking to expand capacity for critically ill patients. ICUs supported by offsite intensivists help hospitals provide more efficient and effective care, and can reduce both mortality rates and length of stay.

For patients, families and doctors alike, telemedicine is evolving and enabling better care. From emergency expertise deployed at the right place and time, to additional support behind the scenes, telemedicine and the supportive technology platforms that enable it means that an expert, regardless of physical location, is there to provide critical medical care when needed.

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To learn more about how acute telemedicine physicians can reassure your patients, their families, and your physicians and staff, contact us to discuss your needs.