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Published on November 08, 2016

Gundersen's clinical telemedicine gives Boscobel area patients access to specialists close to home

Technology has improved many aspects of life including the way healthcare is delivered. Clinical telemedicine, for example, uses interactive video, audio and a secure, high-speed internet-based connection to link a patient at a Gundersen Boscobel Area location to specialists at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse or Onalaska—in real time.

While several Gundersen specialists travel to Boscobel on a regular schedule to offer in-person appointments, telemedicine provides patients access to additional specialists close to home. "Clinical telemedicine gives patients easier, timelier access to Gundersen specialists. This is particularly beneficial for patients who are ill; who have children, work and school schedules to deal with; or when weather and transportation are issues," explains Jessica Miller, program manager of Gundersen Regional Services and Telemedicine.

Gundersen specialists act as a consultant in collaboration with the patient's primary healthcare provider. Clinical telemedicine can be used for exams, post-operative follow-up, to monitor ongoing treatments, to interpret diagnostic tests, and to discuss prognosis and treatments options.

The telemedicine unit is equipped with a room camera and handheld patient exam camera. The cameras deliver high-definition clarity and offer elements such as a zoom feature for close-up views of areas of clinical interest. The unit also has a stethoscope so while the nurse or medical assistant in Boscobel listens to the patient's heart or lung sounds, the specialist in La Crosse or Onalaska hears the same thing. There is also a view screen so the patient is able to see and talk with the specialist.

"One of the greatest challenges of receiving speciality care when living in a rural community is the travel required," explains David Hartberg, CEO, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics. "A patient living in Boscobel may have to travel a total of three hours in one day for a simple 15 minute follow-up appointment with a specialist. If a driver is also needed, it impacts more than just the patient. Telemedicine is a great platform for patients to receive necessary specialty care in the community they reside, without the lengthy and costly travel burden."

Since Gundersen launched clinical telemedicine in 2005, the organization has added 35 telemedicine locations throughout Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. A few of the services offered through telemedicine in the Boscobel area include Behavioral Health, Cardiology, Medical Oncology, Neurology, Pediatric Oncology and Sleep Medicine.

For more information, talk with your primary care provider or contact the Gundersen location nearest you.

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