Lancaster Physician Fall 2017 - 27

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Telemedicine

H

ouse calls could once again become a common practice
among Lancaster County physicians.

More likely than not, however, house calls of the
future will occur through the use of telemedicine
instead of a physical trip to a patient's home.
Telemedicine, which employs telecommunication and information technology to enable providers to diagnose and treat
patients from a distance, is being used in a variety of applications
in Lancaster and surrounding counties.
While some providers already are communicating with patients
at home in real time with the help of a camera on a smart phone
or tablet, others are using telemedicine to transport patient
information to specialists, who review it
either immediately-as in the case of a
stroke patient-or at a later time.
Experts agree that telemedicine is
expected to continue to increase in both
importance and popularity.
WellSpan Health has 10 telemedicine
programs in place and about a dozen more
in the planning stages, reported Kyle D.
Letner, director of Connected Health.
The operation's primary use of telemedicine occurs in conjunction with the Visiting
Nurses Association and is used to treat
patients suffering from congestive heart
failure who qualify for home health services.

Another area in which telemedicine is looking particularly
promising is psychiatry, according to Dr. Albert Fombu of WellSpan Philhaven.
Because actual physical examination is not necessary for psychiatric
patients, telemedicine can be very effective. Patients in Elizabethtown
can visit a portal equipped with a camera, from which they can
communicate with doctors at Philhaven in Mt. Gretna.
"This enables us to see and hear our patients without them having
to come to us," Fombu said. "Often, it's difficult for a patient to
take time off work or to get a ride to Mt. Gretna. Telemedicine
eliminates those barriers. I think it will be huge for this field."
Dr. Vito J. DiCamillo, medical director of urgent care at Lancaster General Health who is spearheading
telemedicine efforts there, said telemedicine
is being employed throughout the system in
various areas of medicine, including ophthalmology, dermatology, genetics, concierge
medicine, oncology, and urgent care.

EXPERTS
AGREE THAT
TELEMEDICINE
IS EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE
TO INCREASE
IN BOTH
IMPORTANCE
AND
POPULARITY.

Those patients receive a scale, blood
pressure cuff, and an oxygen monitor that hook up to a system
in the hospital, enabling practitioners to read information
transmitted from patients' homes.
"So, for 60 days, those patients can be monitored at home,"
explained Letner. "It's been very effective in reducing readmissions."
WellSpan also is using telemedicine to monitor sepsis patients
and in genetic counseling, and it has a robust tele-stroke program
that gives suspected stroke patients access to specialists at any time
of the day or night.

In a pilot tele-retina program that
recently got underway, cameras installed
in primary care offices are used to photograph the retinas of diabetic patients.
Those photos are sent to specialists, who
are able to recognize problems.
Also successful is a tele-dermatology
program in which photos of potential skin
lesions are sent to and screened by specialists.

"A program like this could potentially
save lives," he said. "A person for whatever
reasons might avoid going to see a specialist. But, with this program,
that initial, in-person visit to the specialist isn't always necessary. A
primary care provider can get the information to the specialist to
determine if follow-up care is needed."
At  UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster  and its sister hospital  UPMC
Pinnacle Lititz (formerly Lancaster Regional Medical Center and
Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center, respectively) there are
two telemedicine programs in place and more are being developed,
according to Brooks Turkel, Market CEO of both hospitals.
A TeleStroke program in coordination with Penn State
Health Hershey is in place on both campuses, Turkel said, as is
Continued on page 28

LANCASTER

27

PHYSICIAN



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lancaster Physician Fall 2017

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