As many of us do, I wear multiple hats in my job. I am a hospital nursing supervisor, IV nurse, house float PRN nurse, transporter and Telehealth nurse. I am a proud nurse working at Swedish Hospital, Issaquah Campus.
We do not yet have enough of a patient population to necessitate a neurologist or psychiatrist 24/7. However, with Telehealth, it is as if we have those specialists a button click away.
As a nurse, I am a big part of the Telehealth service. For example, this becomes evident with Teleneuro, where my role starts before the consultation begins by explaining and preparing the patient and the family for the session. During the session, I become the hands of the neurologist by helping with neurological assessment as needed, including NIHSS and taking fundus oculi pictures. With Telehealth service, we can utilize different lenses to take various pictures, such as the ocular fundus, which not only allow the consulting neurologist to see it instantly, but also allows us to upload the picture to the patient’s electronic chart.
The most rewarding experience I had with Telehealth was utilizing Telestroke. With an acute stroke case, the narrow window in which a patient can receive a thrombolytic is usually three hours from the last known normal time. By the time a patient is brought in to the emergency department, some of that precious time is already spent and the window gets even narrower. Therefore, the ability to establish an instant connection between the physician, patient, family and care team maximizes the chances for a satisfactory outcome.
Unlike Skype, Telehealth provides encrypted images with a secure two-way, online system for patient privacy. It has a built-in camera, which can zoom in so close that the physician is able to see the patient’s pupil reaction to light. The enhanced speaker/microphone, along with the screen, allows the Telehealth session atmosphere to be as if the patient and physician are present in the same room in that moment. In addition to Teleneuro and Telestroke consultation, we frequently utilize telemedicine for Telepsych and Telesocialwork consultation. Therefore, as you can imagine, the use of Telehealth is infinite. Without a doubt, it will be a big part of our future global health system and I am very proud to be a Telehealth caregiver.