Rheumatology patients from locations across Montana avoid the burden of travel by connecting with Dr. Oliveria over telemedicine. Visits are incorporated into his daily schedule allowing Dr. Oliveria to routinely see both office and telemedicine patients. A specific quality of life questionnaire is completed by each patient in addition to laboratory tests to evaluate potential drug effects. Pain, joint condition, medication side effects, strength and range of motion are discussed and visualized during a telemedicine visit. Seeing stable patients over telemedicine with diagnoses of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and polymyalgia rheumatica is a perfect solution to address challenges of access to rheumatology care.
Patients in rural Montana and Wyoming may choose to receive cardiology care through telemedicine technology. An electronic stethoscope transmits heart and lung sounds from the patient to the cardiologist in Billings. Rhythm, rate, and quality of heart sounds and lung sounds are assessed. A nurse presenter at the rural location assists with stethoscope placement and additional patient evaluations such as ankle edema and medication compliance. Eight cardiology providers from Billings Clinic offer telecardiology services. Patients from several locations have been transferred for emergent treatment as a result of telemedicine assessments performed by cardiologists.
Dr. Trostel is among the busiest telemedicine providers at Billings Clinic. She began seeing nephrology patients over telemedicine in February of 2010 and was soon joined by two other Billings Clinic nephrology providers. Connecting nephrologists with over 20 rural locations has allowed patients to be closely monitored which can positively influence the progression of kidney disease. Local laboratory tests combine with hands-on assessments to provide critical information to guide patient care. Evaluations of the heart, lungs, carotid and abdominal vessels, edema and lymph nodes are completed simultaneously between the nurse presenter and provider. A Glasgow patient reports, “The telemedicine consults went surprisingly well. I was able to reduce my medication use which has resulted in me having more energy. Telemedicine is smooth and efficient.”
With the diagnosis of cancer, many treatment options are considered. In addition to standard treatment, various research studies are available to Billings Clinic patients. Frequent monitoring of blood work and evaluating side effects on a scheduled basis are a part of both research and standard protocols. Lab work and chemotherapy administration can be accomplished in many rural communities. Access to the oncologist is a critical part of treatment. Billings Clinic oncologists connect with patients from Eastern Montana Telemedicine Network sites. Decreasing the physical demands of travel for patients undergoing treatments is a benefit of these consults. Assessment, education, personal connection and prescribing treatment are accomplished over hundreds of miles through telemedicine technology.