Children’s Medical Services is now equipped for their patients to be seen by physicians that are not located in Valdosta via telemedicine. Telemedicine is a health care delivery method that applies high-speed telecommunications systems, computer technology, and specialized medical cameras to examine, diagnose, treat and educate patients at a distance.
CMS began offering the service in February and is in frequent contact with Margaret Guill, M.D., a pediatric pulmonologist, at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in Augusta. Before February, Dr. Guill traveled to Valdosta every other month to see between 70 and 80 children over two days. With the availability of telemedicine, she is now able to see more children from her office in Augusta.
The statewide Georgia Telemedicine Program began in 2005 through a grant from WellPoint Inc. The Georgia Telemedicine Program builds upon the successes of WellPoint’s unique Open Access Telemedicine Network model implemented in California to create a comprehensive web of access points throughout Georgia. Their key objectives are to improve access to care throughout Georgia, improve the timeliness of diagnosis and treatment for the patients, improve rural health care delivery, and support rural health care and rural facilities in Georgia.
“We are very fortunate to have telemedicine in Valdosta. It saves our patients and their families from having to travel to places like Atlanta, Augusta and Tallahassee,” stated Curington. “It also saves the specialists from having to travel to our area and allows them to see more of our patients.”
Telemedicine events can be conducted in two ways – live video and “store and forward”. Live video is used when the primary care provider, the patient and the specialist meet at the same time using video and telephone equipment. “Store and forward” is used to send an image to the specialist for review.
According to Curington, CMS hopes to add additional telemedicine centers around the district so that South Georgia children will have more opportunities to see specialists. Patients can potentially see more than 20 specialists, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists and others.
For more information contact Children’s Medical Services at (229) 245-4310.