Richard Strozewski presents the ins and outs of the Telehealth program, designed to give patients quality healthcare at home, at this year’s PVA Summit.
The incessant beeping of an alarm clock jolts a man awake. He sits up in bed, gets in his wheelchair and rolls into the bathroom to begin his day. He’s dreading his doctor appointment this morning, worrying that his cholesterol may be high after his splurge on dessert last night. He goes to his computer, logs on and the assessment begins.
Attending a doctor appointment in this manner is possible thanks to Telehealth, a program that allows patients to receive healthcare in the comfort of their homes by use of technology. “Telehealth is not technology. Telehealth is a system. It is a system designed to deliver healthcare services to veterans,” says Richard Strozewski, spinal-cord injury (SCI) Telehealth program specialist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Medical Center. “This is a technology that was designed for [veterans], I mean, it couldn’t be a better match.”
Strozewski introduced hundreds of healthcare providers on the inner workings and benefits of Telehealth at this year’s Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Summit 2013 + Expo in Orlando, Fla. He presented the system as a way for patients with SCI to improve their quality of life by reducing travel, providing security and increasing the control patients have over their healthcare.
“If you get into an injury like this and it’s serious, one of the things you lose is control over a lot of different things. If we can help give some of that back and we can continue to provide top quality care while we do it, it yes it’s medical, yes it’s clinical, but it’s quality of life, and that is, you know figuring these guys are all ex-military, that’s a big thing,” Strozewski says.
Currently, Telehealth offers three services:
Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT)
Also known as video-to-home, this service brings the healthcare specialist to you, rather than the other way around. Specialists can see patients and prescribe medicine this way. It also gives patient to opportunity to use teleconferencing for some forms of rehabilitation, counseling and education.
Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT)
This service allows physicians and nurses to monitor a patient’s condition from their own home. At set times, the patient answers questions personalized to his/her condition and uses home monitoring equipment to track things like heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. The healthcare provider can then look at the results each day and call the patient or provide further medical care when needed.
Currently used in three areas, this service tracks retinal imaging, dermatology and radiology. A picture or x-ray is taken in an area of concern and stored on the patient’s electronic healthcare later. After a set period of time (usually about one month), another image will be taken so the physician can compare the two images and track any changes. This is a way to keep patients from having to travel to the hospital unless necessary. If the physician sees a concerning change, then the patient will be asked to come in.
After speaking at the Summit, Strozewski only hopes for one thing. He wants everyone in attendance to, “go home and use it.”