Healthcare is constantly advancing with innovative technology that impacts the effectiveness of patient outcomes. Telecardiology is an excellent example of an existing tool that has revolutionized patient care. Cardiology patients no longer depend on in-person visits to receive effective care. As a result, telecardiology can benefit more patients around the world, offering top-tier healthcare from almost anywhere.
The Challenges of an Aging Population
Around the world, an aging population is increasing the number of patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. Telecardiology is crucial to help doctors identify specific clinical pathways that will help manage heart disease. Because of the rising number of patients, cardiologists are under increasing pressure.
The number of patients requiring care is quickly outpacing the number of cardiologists available to provide one on one, in-person care. Using telecardiology devices, cardiologists can make an accurate diagnosis without facing the dangerous constraints of waiting for an in-office cardiologist appointment. More cardiology patients can receive the same level of care they need without the time and cost constraints associated with in-person assessments and consultations.
Diagnosing Patients in Remote Locations
Telecardiology services allow doctors to perform crucial tests to identify cardiovascular disease. This includes:
- Echocardiogram interpretations
- Coronary CT angiogram
- Carotid and venous ultrasounds for venous insufficiency diagnosis
- Echo interpretations
Once the tests are run locally, the results are sent to the specialist or consulting physician right away. They can make their diagnosis and send their findings to the referring physician or discuss their findings with patients via teleconference. This speeds up the process of providing proper care without long waits for in-person appointments. However, it also makes it possible for patients in remote areas or with limited mobility to avoid the stress of travel. Patients at elevated risk for distress are immediately directed to see their local physician or emergency medical service.
Facilitating Faster Diagnosis
At the Iowa Heart Center (IHC), their telecardiology solutions provide echocardiography to rural areas. With the capability to perform ultrasound examinations remotely, it facilitates faster diagnosis. Cardiology patients can present to their nearest clinic to undergo ultrasound exams which are sent to expert cardiologists for evaluation. They provide diagnosis and treatment plans without the need for patients to drive to the hospital. Doppler echocardiography provides more thorough information than a stress echo.
The program can track patient progress from ordering the tests to acquiring the data and interpreting the data to deliver the reports to referring physicians and/or patients. With the use of an electronic administrative system, the process is streamlined, so data is downloaded into each patient’s electronic health record (EHR). This improves efficiencies and allows information to flow quickly without the need for time-consuming manual entry. All reports are in a standardized format providing a comprehensive echo report for physician review.
Reaching Underserved Areas
This type of program is changing the way many countries manage healthcare. While telecardiology is necessary for developed areas due to growing demand, underserved areas in dire need of cardiac care can also benefit from the technology. Because cardiology services have been so centralized in the past, it has left many areas with sadly reduced levels of care.
Through National Telecardiology Companies, these underserved areas are on the radar of neighboring countries and cities. With technology, specialists in major cities can expand their bandwidth to reach outlying clinics. By exchanging patient information, rural patients around the world can receive treatment recommendations from expert cardiologists.
Telecardiology for Medical Outreach
The deployment of telecardiology in developing regions is empowering caregivers around the world. This is a major development, with so many populations lacking access to critical cardiac care. In the early 2010s, GE Healthcare and the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) created a team of ASE sonographers and physicians to provide service in rural northwest India. Their goal was to provide robust training for local doctors on the use of ultrasound technology. These organized trips provided two valuable services to the region:
- It brought point-of-care ultrasound to regional villages in dire need of cardiac care and
- It connected world-class consultants to these areas
With access to pocket-sized ultrasound and ultrasound systems, in hand with specialized video conferencing, ASE’s sonographers joined Gurgaon-based specialists to provide much-needed training. The training helped facilitate early detection of disease as well as a more efficient, accurate way to triage patients. They provided free imaging and utilized telecardiology consultation with worldwide physicians. This is a perfect example of how telecardiology combined with technology can bring diagnostic services to the most remote, underserved areas globally.
Telecardiology for Collaboration
In other areas of the world, such as England, cardiologists leverage video to allow teams to consult on cases. As a result, they can make informed decisions that improve outcomes. In London, for example, doctors at Evelina London Children’s Hospital consult on pediatric cases prior to surgery. Specialists can be brought into the operating room via video conferencing to collaborate even when not in the hospital.
They can also examine live ultrasound feeds during surgery, allowing them to participate and provide real-time advice without ever scrubbing in. The cardiology department at the hospital is vigilant in their use of the technology as they can now benefit from the input of experienced consulting cardiologists providing care from anywhere in the hospital. This same approach can be applied to patients in remote areas.
Improving Efficiency and Outcomes
Again, the demand for telecardiology exists in London because of a lack of cardiac consultants. By being present via telehealth, consultants become more efficient and can manage a higher volume of patients during the consultation stage. The hospital’s telemedicine system combines ultrasound and teleconferencing technology, allowing the team to attend more patients. By saving physicians working hours, they provide better care for patients.
They also improve outcomes using teleconferencing during surgery. It ensures patients spend less time under anesthetic. Consultants can quickly sign into the platform and provide instant input. This contributes to a positive recovery. Patients around the world can benefit from this approach.
Telecardiology allows patients all over the world to access the treatment they need and provide a more consistent level of care to underserved areas. It improves the quality of healthcare for everyone and will continue to improve as the future of medicine and health care evolves.
Telecardiology at Specialist Direct
Telecardiology is an integral part of the services provided by Specialist Direct. Our specialists accurately read and interpret telecardiology studies for better results. Contact us for a consultation or information on our services today.