Virtual consults with nephrologists allow hospital to provide inpatient dialysis services
Imagine being admitted to the hospital and needing a consultation with a specialist, but that physician is 50 miles away.
Now imagine that consultation being available at the tap of a screen.
G. Edward Newman, MD, and Kendra Hendon, MD, are Covenant Health nephrologists, physicians who specialize in kidney care. Regardless of their location on any given day, Drs. Newman and Hendon can be reached at the tap of a button for face-to-face consultations with patients and their physicians at LeConte Medical Center.
Thanks to the advent of this type of telehealth technology, LeConte Medical Center can now offer dialysis for hospitalized patients. For those with acute or chronic kidney failure, dialysis is a process that filters waste and extra fluid from the blood, a function that would normally be done by the kidneys.
Approximately 50 nephrology telehealth sessions have taken place since the LeConte program launched in February.
For many patients, these telehealth sessions allow them to receive the care they need at their home hospital in Sevierville, without the need to transfer to another hospital for access to medical specialists. This benefits the patients and their families, and prevents complicated transfers of care.
Charlie Mullins, RN, manager of LeConte’s critical care unit, says access to Drs. Newman and Hendon has been “absolutely wonderful — it’s so much faster and so efficient.”
With telehealth capabilities, Mullins says the nephrologist can visually assess and speak with the patient in real time through a video screen. With the assistance of a bedside nurse, the nephrologist can also use a special stethoscope to listen remotely to the patient’s lungs.
After consulting with the patient and on-site physician at LeConte, the nephrologist can advise on next steps of care, including inpatient dialysis.
At the Forefront
Dr. Newman and Dr. Hendon work collaboratively with the medical professionals at LeConte Medical Center to manage acute kidney diseases and to ensure the best experience possible during dialysis, Mullins says.
“Our compassionate healthcare team makes certain that all our patients’ needs are met. Patients admitted to LeConte can now receive dialysis without being transferred to another facility. They can receive care here, close to home.” She added that patients who routinely receive dialysis in an outpatient setting can be reassured that if they should need hospitalization, they may not need to be transferred to another facility in order to continue dialysis.
The Next Wave
Mullins describes telehealth technology as the next wave of communication and an enhanced way to provide excellent patient care. LeConte also introduced tele-neurology consults earlier this year for patients experiencing neurological issues, including stroke and problems with the brain, nerves, and spinal cord.