Telemedicine connects patients to doctors virtually

RICHLAND, WA - When you or one of your children gets sick, it can take hours or even days to get in to see the doctor. But with the help of technology, it's possible to see the doctor from just about anywhere using telemedicine.

Telemedicine, or telehealth, is changing the way you go to see the doctor at Kadlec Regional Hospital. The program works by calling into an app called Express Care Virtual. Patients are then seen by a doctor virtually through a video chat, similar to FaceTime or Skype. 

For conditions that require a specialist, patients would be seen by a local provider at a clinic of hospital. In these situations, nurses would wheel in a cart to connect the patient to a clinician in a different location. 

Abigail Richardson, registered nurse and telemedicine administrator at Kadlec, says it's a win-win for doctors and patients. 

"It's just a great opportunity to meet patients where they are at whether that be in their home or at the hospital or in a doctor's office," Richardson said. 

Since 2014, Richardson says Kadlec has seen the program grow.

"Now its interesting to see how many companies and how many hospitals are coming on board with it. It seems to be really well adopted," Richardson said.  

The program can now help treat patients with a variety of illnesses. From ALS, stroke recovery or even wound care.

Dr. John Zurasky is a neurology specialist in Portland, Oregon. Through telemedicine, he is able to treat patients all over the west coast.

"Instead of it taking an hour or longer to care for a patient, we can get them treated 40 to 60 minutes," Zurasky said. 

He said with patients in rural areas of the country, telemedicine helps them connect with specialty doctors in a faster way. 

"When your community doesn't have one of the people that are trained like this then the community can suffer... this helps extend the care of up to date care of everybody that we reach from inner city to rural communities that almost never have access," Zurasky said. 

Kadlec telemedicine director Cass Bilodeau said patients are now choosing the telemedicine option more often.

"They don't necessarily want to wait three months. If they have the ability to be seen quicker over telemedicine... that what they are choosing because they need that help immediately," Bilodeau said.

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