New Telemedicine Initiative Speeds Patients Access to Leading Specialists

June 21, 2017
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BENNINGTON, VT—June 21, 2017—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s (SVMC) new telemedicine initiative with Dartmouth-Hitchcock is increasing access to highly specialized care.

TeleNeurology, the first of three planned telemedicine services, went online in April. It is expected to increase the speed of care for patients experiencing emergent neurological conditions.

“SVMC does not have a neurologist available 24 hours a day. Telemedicine allows us to access a board-certified neurologist whenever we need one,” said Trey Dobson, a specialist in emergency medicine, chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians. “That is going to make a big difference for patients experiencing stroke and other neurological emergencies.”

TeleEmergency services went online at the end of last month. Emergency telespecialists can be called upon to consult with SVMC’s board-certified emergency doctors.

“The teleEmergency specialists can take over routine tasks that can keep our doctors and nurses at the computer, rather than at the bedside,” Dobson explains. “Additionally, for complex cases, we can quickly form a team using our own doctors and nurses and doctors from Dartmouth-Hitchcock.”

Specialists for both services are physically located at either Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Center for Connected Care in Lebanon, NH, which operates in partnership with telehealth leader Avera Health, or through a company called Specialist on Call, which uses doctors in locations nationwide.

The connection is made using a high-definition live two-way audio-video camera and a Wi-Fi-enabled monitor, mounted either to the wall or a cart. The camera is operated by the telespecialist and can zoom in to evaluate patients with enough clarity to determine whether or not their pupils are dilated.

Clinical staff at SVMC provide relevant health history and serve as a physical proxy for the remote physician. The telespecialists make recommendations and suggestions in collaboration with physicians at SVMC.

A third telemedicine service, for the intensive care unit (ICU), is anticipated to launch in the fall. TeleICU will provide 24/7 continuous monitoring by ICU intensivist physicians and nurses to support the work of SVMC’s onsite physicians and ICU staff. This will allow patients with more severe cases to stay at SVMC, rather than requiring that they transfer to a larger hospital further from their friends and family. In addition, the service provides SVMC staff access to education on the latest advances in intensi ve care.

Those interested in an in-depth explanation of the emergence of telemedicine, its current capabilities, and its future can attend at free seminar on the topic at 5:30 p.m. Monday, August 7 at the Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, VT. The Medicine Today lecture is presented through a partnership between the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. To register, visit the science section of the programs tab at greenmtnacademy.org.

About:

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), which includes 19 primary and specialty care practices. Primary care offices are located in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, and Wilmington. To learn more, visit svhealthcare.org. For news and updates, follow SVMC at facebook.com/svmedicalcenter.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.