Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals have added telehealth services—which uses interactive video-conferencing to connect providers and patients to clinical services and education programs at distant sites. Patients can now avoid travel times and reduce travel expenses and still access the care they need.
Telehealth patients have a live, real-time interaction with a physician who provides specialized care, follow-up appointments and education that may not be offered locally. This technology gives physicians the ability to obtain sufficient examinations of patients by questioning them about their past health history and current symptoms, and by using electronic diagnostic equipment and peripheral cameras.
The telehealth program at United and Kelsey Hospitals began with virtual cardiology services. The program has grown to provide specialist consults in cardiology and oncology between United Hospital, Kelsey Hospital and Spectrum Health medical facilities in Grand Rapids. The program will soon include diabetes education, stroke specialist access, a virtual wound clinic and primary care provider e-visits to local communities.
Feedback from local telehealth patients has been overwhelmingly positive. Gregory Baker of Coral drove 10 miles to the Kelsey Hospital Emergency Department in Lakeview after experiencing chest pain. Upon being evaluated by the emergency department physician, it was clear he needed to be seen by a cardiologist. A cardiologist was not available in Lakeview at the time, so the Kelsey Hospital staff took advantage of the new telehealth technology and consulted with a provider from the Heart and Vascular Center at United Hospital. “The experience was wonderful; it felt like the doctor was in the room with me,” explained Gregory. “It was nice to see a specialist when I really needed him and not have to travel and spend money on gas.” Gregory appreciated that the off-site physician was able to read his tests and explain his health situation. “This is a huge benefit to our rural community.”
“With this new technology, a consultation can be done in the emergency room right when we need it, which benefits both patients and care providers,” states Steven Fahlen, DO, Kelsey Hospital Emergency Department. “This is just the beginning; we will see more services being offered through telehealth to benefit the patients in our community.”