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The Future of Telemedicine
s the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, hospitals
and health systems are working to expand and enhance
their Virtual Care Options for the benefit of their patients
and communities.
" When COVID-19 arrived many health systems expanded their
telehealth options out of necessity, " said Mary Bilotta, MSN,
RN, AGCNS-BC, CEN, System Clinical Manager Telehealth at
Tower Health. " We needed to keep providing care in a way that
minimized the need for in-person interactions. This helped to
keep patients and staff healthy and safe. Video visits with primary
and specialty care physicians were offered and patients quickly
adapted to the new model of care. Many patients prefer the
virtual visit option because there is no travel time, no parking,
and no wait time in the office setting. "
During the COVID-19 pandemic Tower Health expanded
their virtual health portfolio with the addition of telepsychiatry,
teleneurology, and Virtual ICU services. These services connect
medical experts within the health system, allowing them to
monitor patients and develop a treatment plan. It also allows for
patients to stay at the hospital in their community, close to family.
Most recently, through Tower Health Urgent Care, a Virtual
Urgent Care option has been added. This service is available 24/7
and patients are guaranteed to see a physician in 10 minutes or
less from a desktop or mobile device, no matter the time of day.
An anticipated area of growth in virtual care is " Remote Patient
Monitoring " (RPM) for patients with chronic health problems
including heart failure, COVID-19, obesity, and diabetes. RPM
24 Women2Women | Fall 2021
uses Bluetooth technologies to collect medical data electronically
and securely transmits that information to the patient's healthcare
teams and providers for evaluation and recommendations. This
type of service allows a provider to continue to monitor a patient
after they are discharged to their home or a care facility. All
information goes directly into the patient's medical record and is
monitored by the care team.
Ms. Bilotta said, " These programs are designed to help keep
people engaged in their wellness and to keep them at home
where they are comfortable and out of the hospital. When
patients regularly monitor themselves, we can identify changes
or a decrease in health status almost immediately. This allows
physicians to make adjustments and recommendations to the
treatment plan before patients become so ill, they might require
hospitalization. "
Patients participating in the RPM program are provided
everything they need including a Bluetooth cellular-connected
device, as well as necessary devices such as a scale, blood pressure
cuff, pulse oximeter, glucometer, or thermometer, as needed
for care of their chronic disease. The program does not require
internet service or personal cellular service. A computer and/or
cell phone is not required to participate.
Michelle Trupp, Senior Vice President and Chief Information
Officer, added, " We are always evaluating additional
opportunities for virtual care that will help improve, and increase,
access to healthcare for some of our more vulnerable populations
and the communities we serve. The addition of these services


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