Nursing Notes

October 15, 2010

Hospital launches new telemedicine program for stroke and child trauma Neurologists and child trauma experts can now view patients at suburban Seton Hospitals through a webcam.

HELP Telemedicine clinic 1
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s an article in the Austin American Statesman that shows the benefit of developing technology for better patient outcomes.  At Seton Hospitals here in Austin and the surrounding areas, this one technological change is saving lives.

Telehealth is a trend that will not only continue but will expand as the need for services outgrows the available service providers in any given area.  Hospitals that cannot or will not expand their use of technology will not be able to compete with those who do.

Won’t you tell me how your hospital is meeting this challenge?

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By Claire Osborn
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, September 04, 2009

ROUND ROCK — A woman lying in a hospital bed at Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock on Thursday was listening to a series of questions Thursday from an Austin doctor on a 27-inch LCD television monitor.

“Can you open your eyes please and face the camera?” said Dr. Darryl Camp, medical director of neurology for the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin.

“Elevate your right leg and then elevate your left leg. Can you say your name?” Camp said.

He was demonstrating new technology that will allow doctors at Seton hospitals in Round Rock, Burnet and Kyle to more quickly consult with neurologists in Austin about stroke patients and pediatric trauma patients.

The $250,000 program, based at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, starts this week.

Instead of having to describe symptoms over the phone to neurologists, physicians can wheel their patients in front of a television monitor with a camera that allows a specialist to see the patients.

The program also allows the Austin neurologists to read CT scans on their laptops. Seton hospitals have handled 1,200 stroke cases in the past year and hope to double that number with the new technology, Camp said.

Time is precious when a person suffers a stroke because brain cells can die by the minute, Camp said. He is one of seven stroke specialists who will participate in the program.

Neurologists can advise doctors whether clot-busting drugs are needed immediately or whether a patient should simply be observed, said Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director for the emergency department at Seton Medical Center Williamson.

Neurologists can also catch subtleties in a CT scan that other physicians might miss, he said.

Children with traumatic injuries will also benefit from telemedicine, said Dr. Pat Crocker, emergency department medical director for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

A neurologist in Austin might need to tell a doctor in another county whether a child who comes into a hospital with a chest injury and a collapsed lung needs to be intubated before being transferred to Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, Crocker said.

Fifty-four pediatric specialists from Dell Children’s will participate in the child trauma part of the telemedicine program, said Emily Schmitz, a spokeswoman for the Seton Brain and Spine Institute.

The five Seton facilities that will be using the technology include University Medical Center Brackenridge, Dell Children’s, Seton Highland Lakes Hospital and Seton Medical Center Hays, which is scheduled to open in October in Kyle.

cosborn@statesman.com; 445-3871

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