Telemedicine helps reduce waits for mental-health patients in ER and provides better health-care access in schools

Health professionals have used telemedicine to help delay Alzheimer’s disease and reduce hearing loss in Appalachia, especially among children. Now the new approach is helping students access health care, and mental-health patients to get faster medical attention in emergency rooms.

AMD Global Telemedicine has been establishing telemedicine systems in schools, which allow “providers to care for students on-site with few clinicians to support it,” Katie Wike writes for Health IT Outcomes. So far “the Center for Rural Health Innovation in western North Carolina used the technology to support 14 school-based programs and provide care to 4,000 students.

The health-care provider can ask the questions during the exam, and “it doesn’t assume the presenter knows the questions to ask,” said CRHI Executive Director Amanda Martin. This approach allows one nurse practitioner to provide care to thousands of children. Some Kentucky schools are already using the telemedicine platform, Wike reports.

Sometimes when patients seek mental-health care in emergency rooms, no psychiatric services are available. In this case, hospitals often contact and wait for a provider to arrive or send written evaluations for review, Karla Paris writes for Health IT Outcomes. Now KentuckyOne Health has a telemedicine program that gives faster response times for those requesting mental-health care. For example, patients who visit Louisville’s Ss. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital for mental-health care will be able to videoconference with professionals from Our Lady of Peace Hospital. “Patients can then be referred for admission at Our Lady of Peace, another outpatient program or care center,” Paris reports.

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