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BHS says telemedicine is here to stay

LAUREN BLANKENSHIP
Editor

Doctors, if they hadn’t already, have shifted to using telemedicine in the face of the pandemic. Telemedicine is the use of technology to see patients, usually by a video chat with your provider. 

As we look towards the future post-pandemic, we must ask what our healthcare experiences will be moving forward. 

Beauregard Health System says telemedicine is here to stay. 

Kelli Broocks Vice President of Corporate Development for Beauregard Health System says “this technology, especially in a rural setting is a tremendous asset.” 

Dr. Saharan, Hospitalist, broke down why telemedicine has been an asset to our area in further detail.  

“At Beauregard Health System we have been using telemedicine for close to a year now and following is our take on it,” wrote Dr. Saharan.  

  • “As a hospitalist service, we have been able to get specialist care Pulmonary/critical care, Neurology and Cardiology. This had been hard to come by in the past’

  • It has decreased transfers out of the facility;

  • Given us the ability to get a multi-Specialty opinion in those cases which are complex with legal documentation in the chart;

  • Families and patients have felt reassured with the technological and clinical services a rural hospital can provide in their area;

  • With the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been extremely useful.  As some COVID-19 patients can find it hard to transfer out given lack of definitive treatment. Our patients were able to get critical care co-management in rural Hospital; 

  • Unlike some rural hospitals which had to close their doors due to this pandemic, we not only kept our hospital running but also were provided a higher level of care including transfusion of Convalescent plasma; 

  • Reduced pressure and stress on the stand-alone hospitalist team as it provides a second set of eyes inpatient care.” 

Med-Surg Nursing Team Leader Penny McCullough shared her thoughts on telemedicine as well.  “As telemed is used more, it will become second nature to nurses. The patients I’ve seen telemed used with seemed genuinely impressed with it and the continued advances in medical technology,” McCullough said.

“The vision of Beauregard Health System is to be the premier gateway to health and wellness services in our community,” said Traci Thibodeaux, Chief Operating Officer. “Telehealth is one of the tools we are successfully using to be the primary connector to health care solutions where individuals and families are best served.”

For many, telemedicine is an easier way to see their doctors. It saves on travel costs and time and allows doctors to see more patients in some cases. While there can be no replacing in-person visits to health care providers, telemedicine has the ability to meet the needs of patients in a faster, more convenient manner. 

One telehealth user explained to us her experience with telehealth. 

“I have had a number of telemedicine appointments over the last few months. The first few were with my primary care physician, Dr. Duplechain, of DeRidder. We set an appointment just as if I was going in person. When that time came his secretary called me and asked if I was ready, then connected me via video to the doctor,” Ellen Perry explained. “I really like the experience of the video conferencing because I wasn’t talking to him about anything pressing, I just had a few questions for him and few follow up things to talk about. It saved us both time I feel like.” 

Perry went on to talk about a telemedicine appointment with a doctor she hadn’t seen before. “Before the stay at home order was issued I had an appointment with Dr. Close in Alexandria. He is an allergist. I was convinced I had food allergies for whatever reason. He called me personally to reschedule my in-person appointment and when he did I explained why I was coming,” Perry said. “I told him I was just curious about my allergies.

“He set me up a video appointment and had me answer basically the intake questions. At the end of our conversation, he could already tell me that what I was experiencing wasn’t food allergies. It saved me a trip to Alexandria which I appreciated. It also meant that he could use the appointment I had for someone who needed to visit in person.” 

Our rural location can make telemedicine difficult if internet connection is hard to come by, but a majority of telemedicine can be done via cell phones, which most people have. 

While we cannot predict the future, we can see the positives that have come from COVID-19 and the use of telemedicine is one.

For more on our Rebuilding America iniative visit https://www.usatoday.com/rebuilding-america/