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Telehealth Eases Stress, Accelerates Diagnosis Time in Georgia

TechSource Editor

February 29, 2016  |  Telehealth

Iron Bow’s TED (Telehealth Education Delivered) truck hit the road again in 2016, making its way across the United States visiting hundreds of Veterans medical clinics and offices. While TED is on the go, we are taking the opportunity to talk with all of our TED partners about the many aspects of telehealth and how technology is evolving to help care teams, practitioners and specialists improve care, anywhere, at anytime. Our partner, Cisco, has made significant headway in delivering telehealth solutions. Here is an example of their work with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI):

Health issues of any kind causes stress on a patient and his or her family. It is compounded exponentially when quality healthcare is not within a reasonable proximity. Take for example in Georgia, where one family took on a six-hour round-trip journey just to access help for autistic children. Not only was it causing stress for the family, it was taking time away from both school and work.

Telehealth technology provided through the Connected Healthy Children program, which allows the family to see medical experts without leaving their community, eliminated the added stress.

In this case, the family meets face-to-face with medical experts in Atlanta from the local hospital via a state-of-the-art telemedicine link to Marcus Autism Center. The Center’s telemedicine room is a showcase for providers after being optimized by scientists at the GTRI and Cisco.

The redesign created telepresence, clinical workflow and diagnostic processes that enables clinicians to identify rural children with autism spectrum disorders as early as 18 months – a vast improvement from previous diagnosis, which had been as late as 7 years old.

“We’re helping to screen a lot of children with developmental disabilities so that it’s no longer seven years until they are diagnosed. The younger you can diagnose, the better off you are,” said Felissa Goldstein, M.D., who uses the system for early screening and continuing care for children with autism spectrum disorders.

In the past, her telemedicine system had poor lighting, muffled sound and displaced monitors, which created heavily reduced eye contact. Cisco, as a provider of telemedicine equipment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, donated approximately half-a-million dollars’ worth of equipment and software toward telemedicine enhancements at both Marcus Autism Center and Children’s.

The GTRI and Cisco team found the best way to orient the telemedicine monitors to optimize eye contact and visual connection between doctor and patient for better care. In addition, the new system is in a room of its own with better lighting to make Goldstein appear natural, rather than dark and shadowy. Importantly for HIPAA compliance, the room is soundproof.

“Cisco worked hand-in-hand with us from the beginning,” said Courtney Crooks, a senior research scientist at GTRI, who is leading the project. “In a patient-provider relationship, the experience is really important. We wanted to ensure the telepresence is at least as good as when you’re sitting in the office with a provider. Plus, we wanted to use technology to enhance the clinical workflow and capabilities of the provider, beyond what they may be able to accomplish through manual means.”

Every patient wants to make a personal connection with his or her caregiver, but sometimes distance gets in the way. Telehealth is the best answer for people in those situations.

Learn more about the Marcus Autism Center Telehealth solution here.

Read more at Georgia Tech Research Institute case study.

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