Imagine a patient from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula meeting with University of Michigan physicians in Ann Arbor via videoconference, or the same patient’s primary care physician coordinating their care by sharing medical history, X-ray images, test results and other resources electronically — a process called store and forward — with consulting physicians based here in Ann Arbor.
Such long-distance care is possible through the use of telemedicine — using technology to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of health care delivery. In addition to making care more convenient for our patients, telemedicine allows our physicians to connect with patients throughout the region to expand our reach, and to serve a population greater than we can accommodate in our physical facilities.
For example, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center utilizes telemedicine with its tumor boards, bringing together clinicians and other medical staff to discuss several diagnoses, treatment plans and other issues. These group consultations — which can include images, tests and lab results — allow care teams to present and discuss numerous difficult cases in a single session. Patients do not need to schedule separate appointments in order to be “seen” by multiple radiologists, oncologists, pathologists and nurses.
Another feature of telemedicine is the use of telementoring — the process of supervising a patient procedure, such as surgery, from a distance. In addition to using technology to mentor off-site physicians and other clinicians, telementoring allows our physicians to keep up with medical advances and it decreases the demand for UMHS hospital beds.
For patients and their families, the use of telemedicine can remove the need for long trips to UMHS facilities while receiving the care they need close to home. At the UMHS eHealth Center, we are proud to incorporate the use of telemedicine where appropriate, to better serve our patients and partners.