Telecardiology is changing the health care landscape, in a good way. Through real-time image streaming, live video conferencing and other technologies, clinicians are able to provide patients outside their hospitals with quick, efficient and convenient care.
For one, telecardiology lets outlying clinics connect easily with expert cardiologists in the city if they need advice on one of their patients. All they need to do is send the patient’s records and scans over the web.
At the Iowa Heart Center (IHC) in West Des Moines, Iowa, a program that brings echocardiography to rural areas is in place. Led by Richard Marcus, M.D., this CyberCardiology program has 24 outreach sites in Iowa where patients can undergo ultrasound examinations for their heart ailments. The exam results are sent, using fiber optic cable or DVD, to the main server in West Des Moines. There expert cardiologists evaluate the results and then provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. This means patients who live far from an urban center don’t have to drive long distances for quality diagnostic testing and a consultation. Instead, they can just head to the nearest clinic.
Another popular form of telecardiology is video collaboration. Cardiologists at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, for instance, rely on this technology to consult with each other on the best course of action for pediatric patients undergoing surgery. In the past, senior consultants needed to go to the operating room (OR) and scrub in to provide assistance. But thanks to videoconferencing, the OR team can collaborate with a consulting cardiologist who may not be physically present in the OR.
Regardless of how telecardiology is used, it is paving the way for quality care for every patient, no matter where they are.