House Calls

SUM 2019

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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It may sound far fetched, but this future-is-now scenario is a reality thanks to Roper St. Francis Healthcare's new Virtual Care, which reflects one of the latest advancements in telemedicine. "This is a way for us to bring care to people who, for one reason or another, can't get to a doctor," explains Roper St. Francis affiliated family medicine doctor Todd Detar. Telemedicine is also transforming care within some Roper St. Francis hospitals thanks to high-tech carts from which medical specialists can monitor and access patients from afar. TELE WHAT? The term "telehealth" first came into use decades ago and covers any form of healthcare provided via phone, email, or video. The trend started with practices as simple as one doctor sharing a digital copy of lab results with another, but as technology has evolved, so too have telehealth's capabilities. Today, according to the American Hospital Association, 76 percent of hospitals in the U.S. connect with patients and consulting practitioners by way of video conferencing, remote monitoring (when mobile devices convey a patient's health data to a medical provider), and messaging tools like a patient portal. The field of "telemedicine"— when a healthcare provider uses telecommunications to diagnose and treat patients from afar—is the latest iteration of telehealth and is expanding across the country and here at home. CARE FROM ANYWHERE At times, getting to a doctor's office to deal with a minor illness—say, a cold, rash, sinus infection, or earache— can be tricky. For some, transportation is an issue; for others, the trouble lies in taking time off work or wrangling a carful of kids into a waiting room. In April, Roper St. Francis launched Virtual Care to remove those barriers. Using a smartphone, tablet, or computer equipped with a webcam, anyone can consult with a healthcare provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere with internet access. To I t's 11:45 on a Tuesday night and you're feeling the pain of a sinus infection—not to mention the stress over fitting a doctor's visit into a Wednesday that's scheduled to the hilt. You grab your phone and open an app; minutes later, you're consulting with a medical provider via video chat. He or she diagnoses the condition, oers a treatment plan, and sends you o to sleep feeling relieved. P H O T O G R A P H S D R . D E T A R C O U R T E S Y O F R O P E R S T . F R A N C I S H E A L T H C A R E ; D R . S I E G A N B Y M A R Y M A R T I N H A R P E R & S T R O K E C A R T B Y M A R Y K A T H O E S E R 36 { summer 2019 } h o u s e c a l l s enroll, visit rsfh.com/virtualcare or download the Roper St. Francis Virtual Care app and fill in basic information about yourself and your medical history (adults can enroll themselves as well as children). When ready to start a visit, you'll simply answer a few questions about your aches or pains, then select from a list of available healthcare providers. The provider will appear on your screen and begin the consultation much as they would in person. "We have specific clinical guidelines for making a virtual diagnosis on a wide range of conditions—from bronchitis to urinary tract symptoms," explains Dr. Detar, who is medical director of Roper St. Francis Express Care. Patients may be asked to help gather physical evidence—by, say, shining a light in their mouth or pointing to the spot where their stomach hurts. "Sometimes we deem that the patient should be seen in person, and in that case, we navigate them to the right provider," notes Dr. Detar. But most often, Virtual Care users will have a diagnosis and a treatment plan (including a prescription, if needed) within eight to 10 minutes. HIGHDEF INHOSPITAL CARE Advances in telemedicine are improving inpatient care, as well, notes Dr. Mitchell Siegan—an anesthesiologist and chief medical officer at Roper St. Francis. While Roper St. Francis doctors have put what they call "telemedicine carts" to work for treating stroke patients since 2016, this summer marks the beginning of a major expansion for the state-of-the-art technology. "We're now utilizing telemedicine throughout four acute-care fields—infectious disease, nephrology, endocrinology, and palliative care medicine," Dr. Siegan explains, adding that the carts (shown on opposite page) will arrive to Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital this summer and to the forthcoming Dr. Todd Detar "This is a way for us to bring care to people who, for one reason or another, can't get to a doctor." — DR. TODD DETAR Prior to telemedicine being employed for stroke patients at Roper St. Francis hospitals, it took an average of 64 minutes to treat patients with the vital clot-busting medication known as "TPA." Today, "door-to-needle" time is 51.8 minutes, which has translated to significantly improved outcomes for patients. When to Log On Download the Roper St. Francis Virtual Care app or log on with a computer to consult with a healthcare provider about: allergies, colds, cough, pink eye, rash, sinus infections, and other minor, non-life threatening conditions.

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