Fremont Area Medical Center

SUM 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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Page 15 of 31

M E D I C A L T E C H N O L O G Y (continued from page 15) "If we have a patient admitted to our ICU here, doctors in St. Louis who are critical care specialists can tell us if there is a problem we don't recognize," says Dr. Gugnani, who serves as medical director informatics for Mercy Hospital, Fort Scott and Mercy Hospital, Independence in Kansas. "They can see everything in real time, and they have instant access to our medical records. It's an extra set of eyes." Other applications are available to monitor chronically ill patients in their homes, and they are often supported by visiting nurses who take vital statistics and submit them electronically. But the future of remote monitoring, says Dr. Gugnani, may include scales and blood pressure machines in the patient's home that link directly into the system and the patient's care provider. INTEGRATING KNOWLEDGE Electronic medicine also is transforming communications between doctors and their patients. Physicians can use online resources to expand their access to cutting edge treatments and to provide patients with a detailed explanation of their condition and its treatment, along with educational materials that may help them heal. "We now have instant access to various sources for online patient education, so I can provide an after-visit summary that says what you were here for, when your next appointment is and what you need to do in the meantime," explains Dr. Tanner. "People are often distracted during an office visit and may leave, get home and not be able to remember exactly what was said. This gives them a detailed overview so there is no confusion." Dr. Tanner thinks eventually patients will be able to use health portals to access their own medical records and send questions to their doctors via online communication. MAKING IT WORK Telemedicine is not without its drawbacks. The main one is that electronic medical records are usually run on proprietary software, and many different systems are available. One platform won't be able to recognize another without an expensive—and often complex—communication system. These systems are also costly, and integrating them adds even more expense. In addition, medical professionals may lose productivity while they're learning the system, says Dr. Tanner. In the end, telemedicine will never replace physicians, adds Dr. Hyon. "Remote medicine can be a lifesaver in some cases, but there's no substitute for sitting down with a patient," says Dr. Hyon. "You can have the right equipment, supervised by qualified technicians, but telemedicine tends to have a specific focus. When a patient comes to me for an earache, I don't just examine the ear, I examine the whole person. That intuitive human touch will always be crucial." • 4 Benefts of online medicine • Easily accessible electronic health records • Remote diagnosis and treatment recommendations • Monitoring of chronically ill patients at home • Immediate after-visit summary with doctor recommendations and additional resources for information SHUTTERSTOCK 16 SPI RIT O F WOM EN S U M M E R 2 013 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m

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