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Regis experts highlight advances in Tele-Health

November 20, 2013
Medzon, Glynn, Frederico, Kvedar, Simon
Photo l to r: Ron Medzon, MD; Penelope Glynn, PhD, RN, Dean of the Regis College School of Nursing, Science and Health Professions; Catherine Frederico, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition Program Coordinator at gamesforhealth.org; Joseph Kvedar, MD, Director of the Center for Connected Health,; Steve Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Section of Internal Medicine and Active Medical Staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System

Boston hospitals are prepared for crisis, even the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Seven months after the Marathon bombing, health care professionals explored the impact of telehealth and technology on emergency medicine during the Regis College health panel on November 13.

Preparation, planning and communication are key to any occasion demanding immediate medical response, explained Ron Medzon, MD, Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Medical Director, Solomon Center for Clinical Simulation and Nursing Education at Boston Medical Center. Today technological simulation and  drills are integral to that.

Each year, for example, the Boston Medical Center participates actively in the disaster drills conducted by the city of Boston. Learning that casualties were on their way on April 15, the hospital quickly cleared out an area and set up a fully equipped 25-bed ward, which was ready before the first victim arrived. “We were prepared because of our participation in the annual disaster drills,” said Medzon.

More broadly, telehealth and technology are helping to change the healthcare delivery system in the United States. Frequent visits to the doctor’s office for chronic illnesses are giving way to care at a distance, said Joseph Kvedar, MD, Director of the Center for Connected Health, as medical personnel use technology to exchange information among themselves and between them and patients. It is increasingly usual for live, interactive consultations to occur through video similar to mainstream services such as Skype and FaceTime. And medical informatics, in which information is uploaded and reviewed at a later time or on demand is becoming standard practice. Technology has also enabled remote monitoring. “The value of caring for patients afar is access,” says Kvedar. Futuristic patient self-management systems are in the works, including using Facebook for follow up with teens with asthma.

Steve Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Section of Internal Medicine and Active Medical Staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, discussed My HealtheVet (www.myhealth.va.gov), a web site designed for veterans, active duty service members, their dependents, and caregivers. With the use of online tools, My HealtheVet helps veterans manage their health care. The site provides access to clinical notes that the health care team records during appointments or hospital stays, VA immunization records, detailed lab reports, a list of current medical issues, prescription information including refills, VA appointments and secure messaging, a form of secure electronic communication between VA patients and their health care teams. According to Simon, there are over 2.5 million registered users of the site.

Catherine Frederico, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition Program Coordinator at gamesforthealth.org, discussed the consumer perspective and described the many credible nutritional applications that are available online today both to advise on diet and to help a person or group monitor their fulfillment of a particular nutritional program.

Technology is becoming more significant in medicine, nursing, and health and wellness not only in anticipation of natural, or manmade catastrophes and dramatic long-distance self- surgeries for scientists stranded in Antarctica, but in routine practice. American care givers are broadening the scope of available healthcare to include a variety of populations in a range of different situations, and technology is one of the chief means in extending care.

Penelope Glynn, PhD, RN, Dean of the Regis College School of Nursing, Science and Health Professions, moderated the panel, explaining the history of the Regis College President’s Lecture Series on Health, which was established in 2007 by former Regis College President Mary Jane England, MD, in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. This unique series of lectures is designed to challenge the community to develop new skills to build awareness of contemporary health and wellness issues and learn to effect positive change.

Audience members include both regulars who attend every lecture because of the excellent topics and new attendees like Suzy Goldstein, an engineer at Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University, who attended because the topic was relevant to her career. Every year, the series charts progress in American health care reform, and every spring an expert panel presents an update on Massachusetts and national health care reform and implementation, very much a work in progress. Besides that presentation scheduled for March 2014, the Lecture Series this spring will focus on diabetes and related infections, complications, and treatment.

The lectures are free and open to the public

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