Telemedicine makes '21st century house call' possible in Western Pa.
Barbara Vedu knew something wasn't right.
The 54-year-old Leechburg resident was shaky and nauseous. A diabetic, Vedu decided she'd better call 911.
Much to Vedu's surprise, when AK Pulser paramedic Eric Anderson showed up to assist Lower Kiski EMS already on the scene, he presented her with Pulser's newest tool: an iPad.
“I was like ‘What are you guys doing?'” Vedu said.
Anderson explained to Vedu, that, with her consent, she'd be the first patient in the state to use telemedicine as part of her treatment.
“Telemedicine is another tool for us,” Anderson said. “It allows us, via the iPad, to connect patients with emergency room doctors.
“The physician can get a look at the patient and see what steps we need to take,” he said. “It's like a 21st century house call.”
In Vedu's case, the next step was to remain at home and raise her blood sugar via food, with a plan for her to follow up with her physician the next day.
“There are four specific types of cases where we can use telemedicine,” said Jeff Polana, the director of prehospital operations for Allegheny Health Network, which owns AK Pulser. “One is treatment for patients outside (normal EMS) protocol, another is for stroke patients, third is for a patient who the paramedic just isn't comfortable with and, finally, for patients who refuse treatment.
“Before we do telemedicine, the patient has to be conscious and alert of time and place, and consent to telemedicine's use.”
Polana said there is no charge to the patient for using telemedicine.
He said since Vedu was treated on June 30, emergency responders have used telemedicine with 11 other patients.
AK Pulser's telemedicine program is the first program of its kind in the state, and is operating on a one-year trial basis, Polana said.
“For us to be a the only approved pilot program in the whole state is a true honor,” he said.
Vedu said it was an honor for her, too.
“I think this is great,” she said. “They should use it more often. I feel special.
“It kept me out of the hospital and kept me from having to stress over who would come get me.”
Bob McCaughan, the vice president of prehospital care at Allegheny Health, said patient peace-of-mind is just one of the many benefits of telemedicine.
“It keeps patients out of the hospital who don't need to be there,” he said. “It saves patients money and time, it kept an emergency room bed open and it puts an ambulance back on the streets of the community.
“I think it's safe to say that telemedicine is going to be here to stay.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- USW workers to march on ATI headquarters
- Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley offers free services at clinic
- Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
- ATI workers retire early to ensure pension
- Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority continues cleanup
- Harrison residents want answers to flooding concerns
- Allegheny Valley gets study of facilities
- Natural gas compressor plan gets full hearing in Gilpin
- Zelienople development to be inclusive of those with autism