CPM Spring 2020 - 27

daup h i n c m s .o rg


he image of a doctor showing up at
the patient's home to provide care
is a familiar one, but mostly from
movies and TV shows depicting life
several generations ago. But with the growth
of telemedicine spurred by the coronavirus,
what is old is new again. And it will likely
transform medicine as we know it.

What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the use of a telephone or
videoconferencing technology to provide
real-time medical consultations and examinations. Although it seems novel, it has
been around for years.
Video visits are the most familiar form
of telemedicine. Using the video camera,
microphone, and speaker of their smartphone or internet device, as well as a special
portal or app for security, patients can
speak live to a physician. Patients receive
the same level of care as they would in the
office. It is just a change in the platform,
from a doctor's office to the patient's home.
Patients can schedule an appointment
just like an office visit. They can also do
what is called an on-demand visit, which is
like an urgent care visit in which patients
"walk-in" to a virtual waiting room and see
a provider on duty (not necessarily their
primary care provider).
Telemedicine gives patients access to the
expertise of highly trained physicians from
the comfort of their home. Other benefits
include fast expert care, less travel when the
patient isn't feeling well, and no waiting
around in an office with other sick people.
Rapid Growth and Use of Telemedicine
Since the widespread appearance of the
coronavirus, telemedicine use has skyrocketed 300, 400, and 500 percent a week at
health systems like UPMC Pinnacle.
This format has been quickly embraced
as a safe and effective way to evaluate
coronavirus patients - and other flu
patients - with mild symptoms. The
patient doesn't have to leave their home and
risk spreading the virus. This protects the
patient, the provider, and the community.

During these shelter-in-home times,
patients and providers have been quick
to see the benefits of telemedicine for all
forms of care, from follow-up care and
wellness checkups to cardiology visits. The
number and variety of specialty services
are expanding rapidly. Health systems like
UPMC Pinnacle provide access to nearly all
specialties via telemedicine. This includes
endocrinology, gastrointestinal, neurology,
pediatrics, orthopaedics, and much more.
In addition to convenience, telemedicine
can give patients access to some of the
nation's leading experts without having to
travel for hours. At UPMC Pinnacle, for
example, patients with complex cancers of
the brain and nervous system can see some
of the nation's top specialists from UPMC
Hillman Cancer Center's Neuro-Oncology
Program in Pittsburgh. And as the health
care provider shortage becomes more acute

in the U.S., telemedicine is an excellent
way to give patients in rural areas access
to leading specialists unavailable near
their homes.
Telemedicine Is Transforming Inpatient
Care, Too
Most of the examples cited here have
been for outpatient care, but telemedicine
has a rich tradition of providing inpatient
and emergency department care.
This often involves the use of telemedicine
carts - sometimes called robots - that are
wheeled into the patients' rooms. These
robots include high-definition cameras
and microphones as well as tools allowing
doctors remotely to check the patient's
heart, lungs, and other vitals.
This offers a number of uses.
For example:
 stroke patient at a community hospital
can access the lifesaving expertise of
acute stroke experts 24/7.
 or smaller hospitals that may not have
behavioral health staff 24 hours a day,
telepsychiatry services can make timely
and quality behavioral health care available around the clock for patients who
come to their emergency departments.
 or some of the most vulnerable people
in our communities - those living in
long-term care and skilled nursing facilities - telemedicine allows specialists to
see these patients virtually at any time
of day or night to prevent unnecessary
and potentially dangerous transfers
from nursing homes.  
* And as we focus on the coronavirus and
its effect on the intensive care unit (ICU)
beds and staffing at our local hospitals,
teleICU care is giving busy ICU staffs
access to expert guidance and support
throughout the day as needed.
Continued on page 28

Central PA Medicine Spring 2020 27


CPM Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CPM Spring 2020

CPM Spring 2020 - 1
CPM Spring 2020 - 2
CPM Spring 2020 - 3
CPM Spring 2020 - 4
CPM Spring 2020 - 5
CPM Spring 2020 - 6
CPM Spring 2020 - 7
CPM Spring 2020 - 8
CPM Spring 2020 - 9
CPM Spring 2020 - 10
CPM Spring 2020 - 11
CPM Spring 2020 - 12
CPM Spring 2020 - 13
CPM Spring 2020 - 14
CPM Spring 2020 - 15
CPM Spring 2020 - 16
CPM Spring 2020 - 17
CPM Spring 2020 - 18
CPM Spring 2020 - 19
CPM Spring 2020 - 20
CPM Spring 2020 - 21
CPM Spring 2020 - 22
CPM Spring 2020 - 23
CPM Spring 2020 - 24
CPM Spring 2020 - 25
CPM Spring 2020 - 26
CPM Spring 2020 - 27
CPM Spring 2020 - 28
CPM Spring 2020 - 29
CPM Spring 2020 - 30
CPM Spring 2020 - 31
CPM Spring 2020 - 32