Instead of asking some patients to drive to Charleston for specialty care, CAMC is using technology to take that care into the more rural areas of West Virginia.
Stroke kills about 140,000 Americans each year and is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. The chance of surviving or recovering with little or no disability improves the sooner emergency treatment begins. However, getting treatment started quickly can be a challenge with very few neurologists practicing in the most rural areas of West Virginia.
Diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness in the U.S., occurs when blood vessels in the retina change due to uncontrolled blood sugars. Maintaining strict control of blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as having regular diabetic retinopathy screenings, are keys to preventing diabetic retinopathy and vision loss. However, access to regular vision screenings can be a challenge with few ophthalmologists located in outlying counties.
Thanks to technological advances, telemedicine has become a valuable tool in helping CAMC doctors diagnose and treat both stroke and diabetic retinopathy in rural hospitals.
CAMC recently hosted Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr to observe a simulated telestroke exam and remote diabetic retinopathy consultation.
Sitting in his Charleston office with an iPad, CAMC neurologist Samip Borad, MD, connected with staff at Boone Memorial Hospital for a telestroke demo examination.
In the past, doctors would drive to CAMC hospitals to evaluate stroke patients or they were transported to CAMC via ambulance. Both took valuable time.
“The benefit of this technology is we can provide critical care in a timely manner,” Borad said. “We can look at labs and medical imaging, allowing us to focus more on patient care. The faster we can provide care, the more we can minimize or prevent disability from the stroke.”
Telestroke is only used in emergencies; however, CAMC’s goal is to expand this technology to provide neurological care in communities where there is no specialist.
CAMC currently is connected to Boone Memorial and Montgomery General hospitals and Minnie Hamilton Health System in Grantsville via telestroke.
Ophthalmologist Huseyin Kadikoy, MD, also demonstrated how tele-health can benefit patients with diabetic retinopathy by connecting with Clay Primary Care in Clay County.
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have it don't notice changes in their vision in the disease's early stages. But as it progresses, the condition can cause permanent loss of vision.
“There are people living in underserved areas in West Virginia who are at risk for blindness because they don’t have access to someone who could diagnose diseases of the eye,” Kadikoy said. “In many cases, if you catch these diseases early enough, blindness can be prevented.”
Infectious disease specialists practicing at CAMC are using a telemedicine connection to treat prisoners in West Virginia and Indiana. The doctors are the sole care providers for prisoners with HIV and Hepatitis C. They give orders that providers working in the prisons fill in treating the patient.
Cardiologists at CAMC will soon be treating emergent cardiac patients in conjunction with providers at Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill.
CAMC pathologist Dr. Nadia Naumova recently began using a digital pathology platform to assist Eswatini, a small country in southeast Africa. She’s part of a team of 15 pathologists around the United States. Dr. Naumova reviews cases online in her areas of expertise (oncologic and gastrointestinal pathology) to provide diagnoses in a timely manner and impact patient management and treatment decisions.
A telerenal program is in the works that would allow a kidney transplant surgeon to consult with patients suffering end stage renal disease in order to put the patient on the transplant waitlist.
CAMC also is now putting care in your hands. 24/7 Care provides 24/7/365 access to U.S. board-certified physicians and licensed physician assistants and nurse practitioners through secure voice or video visits for non-emergency illnesses like the flu, ear infections, sinus infections and more. 24/7 Care providers can prescribe medications for a wide range of conditions when medically appropriate.
The 24/7 Care app is available to download for both Apple and Android devices. Just follow the easy, step-by-step instructions to set up your account. Once you set up your account, you can log in anytime from your home, office or even when you’re traveling for secure visits.
CAMC is providing the service to its employees for free, while it is open to the public for $49 per visit.
“I used the app this evening for my son and it was wonderful,” said Dawn Crist, CAMC information services. “I was very impressed with how easy it was to use, and the provider was great. He explained everything, from the medications he was prescribing to the proper way to use nasal spray, so that my son could understand. I was able to pick up my prescriptions from the pharmacy within 30 minutes of the call ending. I also had my visit summary and school excuse available to print within five minutes of the end of the visit. It’s a wonderful service.”
For more information, visit camc.org/24-7Care.
For more information about eye conditions visit camc.org/Eyes. To learn more about the CAMC Stroke Center, the only designated primary stroke center in the region, visit camc.org/Stroke.