Telehealth solutions have been used in many specialties to help decrease risk and reduce disparities in the quality of medical care across the U.S. Utilization of telehealth solutions by OPOs, however, can significantly expedite the organ assessment, and transportation process using telepathology, telehealth videoconferencing, telepathology, telecardiology, and telepulmonology. Here are four ways OPOs can benefit from telehealth solutions.
1. Telehealth Videoconferencing (TVC)
Telehealth solutions such as TVC allow multiple providers and specialists to collaborate on organ assessment using video monitors, cameras, and videoconferencing software. As soon as a viable organ is identified in the system, medical professionals can hold real-time conferences to determine whether organs are a good match for waiting transplant patients.
The surgeons can also assess transplant patients quickly to ensure they are in good condition to undergo surgery. Arrangements are made to have the patient prepare for the procedure, travel to their local transplant hospital, or speak to subspecialists not available in their town.
For lung transplant patients, rural areas tend to have a higher occurrence of lung-related conditions like COPD. Because these areas rarely have specialized pulmonary testing nearby, telehealth solutions such as telepulmonology identify patients waiting for donors while providing testing to approve lungs for transportation to the nearest transplant hospital. During testing, donors in rural hospitals are identified quickly, with ICU staff working with remote specialists to ensure the organ is viable, preserved, and optimized for transplantation.
2. Telepathology and Teleradiation for Assessment
Time is limited when identifying viable organs. Telepathology, such as whole slide imaging scanners, allows medical teams to assess digitized images processed in minutes. The scanner uses an automated z-focus and stitching function to ensure images are of the highest quality. Wireless connectivity makes it easy for specialists to scan, upload and share images to expedite the review of pathology results. OPOs can also invest in their own pathology scanner to send their teams to hospitals where organs are ready for testing. All images provide high-quality images that are not degraded when specialists wish to enlarge them to assess potential issues.
Remote microscopes allow pathologists to adjust the microscope when viewing slides at other healthcare facilities in real-time. Virtual access allows specialists at different locations to review the same information simultaneously. In complex cases, collaboration is simple, allowing for faster agreements among decision-makers. Scans can be saved for comparison to improve analysis by referring to historical findings for data-based decisions. Extensive medical tests, including biopsies to identify cancer or infections, can be carried out before a decision is made on whether the organ can be transplanted. The pathology process for OPOs and transplant centers can include top pathologists and subspecialty expertise for accurate and timely biopsy interpretations to expedite organ allocation.
Teleradiology provides real-time interpretations of radiology studies, including MRI, CT, ultrasound, and x-rays, for potential organ donations. Remote board-certified specialists also interpret transplant cases in areas that include:
- Soft Tissue
The reliability of organ data is improved through centralized diagnostic study interpretation solutions for liver/kidney biopsies, echocardiograms, and x-rays. This significantly reduces organ discard and increases transplant access. With delivery direct to clinicians, life-saving decisions are optimized to ensure organs are used to save lives efficiently.
3. Telecardiology for Heart Transplants
Cardiologists leverage video to assess hearts before transplants. They can be present during high-risk surgical procedures with high mortality rates to decide whether the heart is suitable for waiting patients. Heart exams can also be reviewed through live ultrasound feeds. OPOs can improve their ability to deliver healthy hearts using technology with the input of experienced consulting cardiologists from anywhere.
4. Telepulmonology for Lung Donors
Lung donations are scored on lab values, disease diagnosis, and other test results to identify acceptable lungs. Issues such as active infection and poor oxygenation can be quickly reviewed thanks to telepathology and telepulmonology methods. With only four to six hours to get lung donations to the location for transplant, remote assessments make it easier for OPOs to assess and match donors to nearby transplant patients. Testing includes:
- Lung volume test
- Respiratory muscle strength test
- Lung diffusion capacity test
- Altitude simulation tests
- Exercise challenges
- Cardiopulmonary exercise tests
- Methacholine inhalation challenge
- Maximal voluntary volume
- Shunt studies
- Ambulatory oximetry
- Arterial blood gas test
- Body plethysmography
- Exhaled nitric oxide test
Telepulmonology allows pulmonologists to consult digitally with OPOs and practitioners to make informed decisions as the possibility of lung availability increases.
Simply put, OPO telehealth solutions optimize organ recovery, saving more lives for patients awaiting transplantation.
Specialist Direct Telehealth Solutions for OPOs
Our team offers interpretations and consultations 24/7 for OPOs, making accessing and sharing information more accessible. Please speak to our team today about our telehealth solutions for OPOs.