Evolved Emergency Care
Parrish Medical Center Introduces Virtual Emergency-Room Check In and Global Telemedicine Services
Our world is advancing at a rapid pace. We can now read newspapers, listen to music, watch movies, shop for groceries and pay bills online. What if we could check into a hospital emergency room or conference with a medical specialist online as well? Parrish Medical Center in Titusville is enabling patients to utilize both of these options through their new services InQuickER and telemedicine.
While other hospitals are using billboards to update the public on real-time ER wait times, Parrish Medical Center is going a step further by allowing patients to check-in online at the next available time slot. Instead of having to wait in the ER waiting room, a patient can wait in the comfort of his or her home before seeing an emergency-room physician. The service is not a one-size-fits-all solution, though, and patients are still advised to call an ambulance if the emergency is a serious one.
But for some patients, the new service is an appreciated alternative to the traditional check in process. One mother, for example, brought her son into the ER because his ear was bothering him. Instead of waiting onsite with her child, she signed in at home through InQuickER and came in to see a physician when it was convenient for her. After they arrived at Parrish Medical Center’s ER, they saw a physician and were in and out in an hour.
“We receive one to two patients a day through the InQuickER service,” says Frank Corcoran, executive director of Critical Care.
Although that may seem like a small number, InQuickER has only been available at Parrish Medical Center since October 2010. In the short period of time, it is already being used by patients across all age groups and is growing consistently. One of the advantages to the service is that it has no “black out” periods, so patients can use InQuickER to check in at any time at either the hospital’s ER in Titusville or the Medfast Urgent Care Center in Port St. John.
Treatment Through Telemedicine
In addition to the new InQuickER service, Parrish Medical Center has partnered with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to offer patients experiencing stroke-like symptoms the advantage of telemedicine consultation and diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic first pioneered telemedicine services in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has been working to progressively expand and advance the practice. Today, they offer global telemedicine services across several fields of medicine, but see it used primarily in neurology and psychiatry.
At Parrish, after a patient is admitted with stroke-like symptoms, he or she will go to CT while staff call a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic and alert him/her of a possible stroke patient. As the patient returns to his or her room, a “teleneurologist” is activated and sent to the bedside along with the onsite staff. Once there, the teleneurologist will work side-by-side with the Parrish Medical Center staff to diagnose and treat the patient.
What Is A Teleneurologist?
A teleneurologist is a sophisticated robot that features live video feed of a neurologist on duty at the Mayo Clinic. The video feed works similar to Skype and allows the neurologist, the patient and the staff to interact with each other in a more personal manner. In addition to the video feed, the robot offers the neurologist the same diagnostic tools he or she would have available if standing in the room alongside the Parrish Medical Center staff. After finalizing a diagnosis and treatment, the neurologist takes the teleneurologist offline and the onsite staff proceeds as normal.
“Our patients love the telemedicine service,” says Dr. Frank Garcia, medical director for Parrish Medical Center’s Emergency Department. “The neurologists take the time to talk with them and explain everything to them.”
When every second counts, the extra manpower and quicker response times offered by teleneurology make a significant difference in the lives of stroke patients. In fact, the percentage of thrombolytic procedures performed on stroke patients at Parrish Medical Center has increased since teleneurology was launched. This means more patients have access to the expertise and resources needed to clear clots and return the body to a normal state — thus minimizing the impact of the stroke.
Telemedicine is part of a nationwide outreach program run by the Mayo Clinic to provide critical services to understaffed or rural areas. Parrish Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic were in mutual agreement about the need for the program in Titusville. Although nothing is definite, this may open the door for other future partnerships.
Current & Future Advances
InQuickER and telemedicine are not the only technological advancements at Parrish Medical Center. Here is a look at three others:
1. Current: Cardiac Catheterization Suite featuring radial catheterization procedure. This procedure, which uses the arm instead of the leg/groin, means less stress and faster recovery times for patients.
2. Current: Parrish Med Mobile (http://m.parrishmed.com). A mobile website providing quick and easy access to Parrish Medical Center’s information from any web-enabled cell phone.
3. Future: Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system with tracking for hospital stays. Not only will future medical records be fully digitized, but they also will be updated in real-time as patients move through the hospital.