Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You can find us on the road, connecting people across the country with the latest innovation in health care – Part 2

In my last post, I started talking about the Connected Care mobile demonstration clinic, a moving showcase of our telehealth initiative designed to make health care more accessible to underserved communities. It’s a truly remarkable program that could drastically improve our health care system, so I want to say a little more about it.

Right now, we’re working on building Connected Care into a national system of permanent telehealth clinics that will give patients across the country access to physicians and specialists when in-person visits are not possible, practical or convenient. As I mentioned before, the clinics can be set up in office buildings, town hall buildings, other medical clinics, government centers, retail locations or wherever else more convenient and affordable medical care is needed.

The Connected Care clinics combine video conferencing with sophisticated medical devices designed for remote use to expand the scope of physicians’ practices by enabling them to care for patients who are tens, hundreds or even thousands miles away. High-tech, integrated equipment coordinates with electronic medical records and other health information technology. Besides an examination camera, the telehealth location has a full range of medical office equipment, such as a dermascope, vital signs monitor, glucometer and electrocardiogram (ECG).

Here’s how a telehealth visit works: After the patient checks in to a clinic, a nurse or health care professional administers a pre-exam workup. A doctor then joins the visit live on a high-definition screen while the onsite professional administers the exam using diagnostic tools, creating a virtual yet personal experience remarkably similar to a face-to-face meeting. At the end of the exam, the onsite professional works with the physician to develop a treatment plan if necessary, coordinate educational materials and respond to any questions or concerns the patient might have.

Connected Care clinics can help make health care more efficient and affordable for patients by minimizing expensive visits to the emergency room, eliminating long trips to see specialists and making preventive services like flu shots, biometric screenings and healthy checkups more convenient. It’s a step forward for higher quality, lower costs and a better health care system for everyone.

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