Stratford Family Medical Clinic makes history with telemedicine
On Monday, August 31 history was made at a small-town clinic when a physician in Lubbock performed the first live-remote pediatric specialty consultation for a child in Stratford via telemedicine.
The Stratford Family Medical Clinic is the first telemedicine site established through the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health’s Project CHART, Children’s Healthcare Access in Rural Texas.
Project CHART, funded by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, will institute 30 telemedicine sites throughout rural West Texas to provide healthcare for Medicaid enrolled children in isolated areas where pediatric and specialty care are not available.
TTUHSC describes telemedicine as a television that is linked to a security encrypted network which allows the patient to be presented by a nurse or physician from a remote location to a specialist at one of their four campuses in Amarillo, Lubbock, the Permian Basin and El Paso.
The Stratford Family Medical Clinic proudly unveiled the technology at an open house with the groundbreaking pediatric consultation for a child whose family had previously been left with no choice but to travel back and forth from Stratford to El Paso for medical consultations.
Dr. Billy U. Phillips, Jr., vice president and director of the TTUHSC F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health, explained that through telemedicine the patient was able to receive the same care in her hometown in a 45 minute period opposed to traveling over 450 miles to El Paso.
“This project will help us demonstrate the technological advantages of telemedicine and allows us to connect children with the best pediatric care available even though their physician may be hundreds of miles away,” said TTUHSC President John C. Baldwin, M.D.
Telemedicine patients will appreciate the reduction of travel expenses, lost wages from time off work, and missed school; but a less obvious benefit is the savings of what Dr. Phillips calls “downstream costs.” He explained that because telemedicine makes expert care convenient and affordable it is more likely that patients will receive care regularly – which can prevent their condition from becoming serious and requiring extensive care in the future.
Because the equipment transmits extremely high quality images and the broadcast is in real-time the telemedicine experience is much like a face-to-face consultation. Debbie Voyles, Director of Telemedicine, said that at Texas Tech campuses doctors see telemedicine patients just as they would in-office patients. “They
will see a regular patient in one room, another regular patient in another room, and a telemedicine patient in the next room – but instead of a patient in the exam room there is telemedicine equipment,” she said.
“The difference is that you cannot shake hands at the end,” said Richard Lampe, M.D., chairman of the Department of Pediatrics.
Although Project CHART is designed specifically to provide pediatric specialty care
to Medicaid enrolled rural children, use of telemedicine is not limited to that demographic. The Stratford Family Medical Clinic welcomes all area residents to take advantage of the technology.
Telemedicine is now
available through the Stratford Family Medical Clinic. For questions about telemedicine in Stratford or to schedule an appointment call the Stratford Family Medical Clinic at 806-396-5583.