Telemedicine cuts down on patient travel

Telemedicine cuts down on patient travel

HANCOCK — One health care clinic in the Upper Peninsula is spearheading a new way to get specialty treatment.

Often times when a patient needs to see a specialist local residents must travel long distances to get the care they need. The medical team at the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, located inside U.P. Health System—Portage, is trying a new approach for patients at their Pediatrics Clinic: bringing the specialist to them using video interface technology. The technology allows the patient, specialist, and the primary care giver to all meet at the same time.

Pediatrician for the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center Dr. Colleen Vallad-Hix said, “Traditionally, those tele-meds have been done at a regional hospital setting with out the primary care physician involved, and that leads to some confusion and not as well integrated health care for the patients and their families.”

The hospital is partnered with the Michigan State University Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders. Patients get their checkup from specialists like Dr. Roshni Kulkarni, who is a leader in the field of pediatric hematology as well as a pioneer in the use of telemedicine. Treatments can be performed locally under the supervision of the specialty doctor without anyone having to travel far from home.

Dr. Vallad-Hix said, “We had one family that had three children that had to have the test done, so we were able to coordinate that testing with our laboratory group here and that saved the mother probably what would have been a whole day travel.”

The clinic has been using the system for about a year. Soon telemedicine is expected to be utilized in many other medical fields as well.