Gundersen Health System specialists are tapping into technology to make it easier for patients to get specialty care, even if they live in rural areas. Clinical telemedicine uses interactive video, audio and a secure, high-speed connection to link a patient at a regional clinic or hospital with a medical consultant at Gundersen in La Crosse or Onalaska—in real time. Telemedicine allows for more intensive management of certain diseases, such as cancer, while saving the patients time, money and stress of traveling to appointments in La Crosse. It can save patients two hours or more of travel time for what could be a 10- or 15-minute follow-up appointment.
The Gundersen specialist acts as a consultant in collaboration with the patient's primary healthcare provider. They can use clinical telemedicine for exams, post-operative follow-up, to monitor ongoing treatments, to interpret diagnostic tests, or to discuss prognosis and treatment options. Clinical telemedicine makes it possible to share information on vitals, symptoms and other case details in a virtual office visit using the technology.
The clinical telemedicine cart has a stethoscope and otoscope that lets the consultant in La Crosse or Onalaska see the patient as if in person. For example, a nurse may listen to a patient's heart sounds or look in the patient's ears, and the consultant hears or sees the same thing. The patients are also able to view and interact with the Gundersen specialist.
Clinical telemedicine exams are not recorded and the signals sent between locations are encrypted. Transmissions are secure and private in compliance with HIPAA privacy regulations.
Gundersen currently has clinical telemedicine established in eleven regional locations. Current sites include Neillsville, Prairie du Chien, Richland Center, Sparta, Tomah, Viroqua and Whitehall in Wisconsin; Spring Grove and Harmony in Minnesota; and Calmar, Decorah, Fayette, Postville and West Union in Iowa.
Gundersen specialties offered via clinical telemedicine (available in select regional locations).