TechRepublic: How telemedicine keeps patients in rural communities healthy
By Veronica Combs
Technology is often blamed for taking away jobs. In the healthcare industry, radiologists—the people who read MRIs and CT scans—are worried about being replaced by algorithms. One type of technology may actually save healthcare jobs, particularly in rural areas: Telemedicine.
Consulting with a patient via video also has the potential to hit healthcare's triple aim: Better patient experience, better health overall, and lower costs. It also may keep rural hospitals in business.
Morgan Waller, the director of telemedicine business and operations at Children's Mercy Kansas City, said that finding the right doctors and nurses is crucial. If a healthcare provider doesn't see the value in the telemedicine, this can doom an entire project.
"The real problem may be that a provider doesn't want to provide care this way, but technology will get blamed for the failure," she said. One way to get around this is to take advantage of the competitive nature of physicians. "If you can get the early adopters, the rest will follow because they want to keep up with everyone else," she said.
Children's Mercy Kansas City uses telemedicine to keep kids and families at home instead of driving anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to get to a specialist. Instead of emergency care, Children's Mercy doctors and nurses use technology for routine checkups and speciality care.
"Kids who have a chronic health condition have to go to the doctor up to six times per year, and you can only get specialist care at certain hospitals," said Morgan Waller, MBA, BSN, RN. "These doctors wouldn't be able to pay off their med school loans if they lived in rural America."
Children's Mercy serves rural and urban patients in Kansas and Missouri. The main hospital offers 47 specialities and 30 of those providers offer telemedicine services. The hospital also has four regional outreach centers that offer specialty care.
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Learn more about Telemedicine at Children's Mercy