Telemedicine provides access to specialists close to home
Traveling to La Crosse to see a Gundersen Health System specialist can be difficult for some patients, especially when illness, distance, weather or transportation is an issue. A service called clinical telemedicine uses technology to help patients overcome these challenges.
Telemedicine uses interactive video and audio to connect patients and healthcare professionals at regional clinics and hospitals with Gundersen medical consultants in La Crosse.
Gundersen hematologist Wayne Bottner, MD, has used clinical telemedicine for more than 10 years. "I can visit with patients at any site in our system equipped with telemedicine. Hematology (the care of patients with blood disorders) is very well adapted for telemedicine. We often use it for appointments after lab work and X-rays, sparing patients a drive to La Crosse to discuss test results and treatment plans."
With telemedicine, the doctor in La Crosse and the patient at a regional site can see and interact with each other as if in person. While Dr. Bottner uses telemedicine primarily for appointments not heavily reliant on hands-on physical exams, the telemedicine cart can aid in an exam.
For example, the cart has a stethoscope so the doctor in La Crosse can listen remotely to the patient's heart, lung or bowel sounds. The camera on the telemedicine cart has remarkable clarity and elements such as a zoom feature, so the physician can get close-up views of areas of interest.
"My patients really love telemedicine. It keeps them closer to home, it works very well, and it's a wonderful way to provide care," says Dr. Bottner.
To learn more, visit gundersenhealth.org/telemedicine. If you're interested in using telemedicine, please talk with your Gundersen primary care provider or specialist.
Telemedicine by the numbers
- In 2005, Gundersen launched telemedicine services.
- Telemedicine is available in 29 communities in hospitals, clinics and behavioral health sites throughout Gundersen's tri-state service area.
- As many as 140 Gundersen clinicians offer telemedicine in 43 specialties.
- Gundersen conducts about 160 telemedicine visits per month.