Telemedicine — a real peach in Georgia
The state of Georgia is a study in contrast. There are large metro areas like Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah whose economies revolve around communications, industry, transportation, tourism and government. There are also large rural areas that rely on agriculture and farming, providing the peaches that give the state its nickname, as well as the bulk of the world’s pecans. This makes Georgia a fascinating part of the country, but also poses challenges for the delivery of healthcare.
As we’ve discussed in past posts on Break Down the Walls, there is a shortage in rural areas of medical professionals, including doctors, specialists and registered nurses. Most specialists tend to be located in and around the major metro regions of America’s large cities, like Atlanta. This becomes a problem when people need the attention and care of a specialist who is located hours away.
In an attempt to more effectively and efficiently deliver care to rural patients, Georgia has begun embracing telemedicine and delivering specialists and doctors via video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions. Telemedicine can effectively allow doctors in places like Atlanta to examine and prescribe treatment to patients in rural parts of Georgia miles away. This ensures that care is administered quickly, while significantly reducing the need to transport patients.
Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that 18,000 healthcare provider consults in Georgia were delivered via VTC last year alone. Also, in an effort to improve public safety and reduce medical costs, Georgia’s prison system has embraced the system as a way to provide care for prisoners without having to take them out of jail. The result has been a 30 percent reduction in medical costs.
In fact, telemedicine has gotten so popular that Dr. Debra B. Lister demonstrated telemedicine techniques with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker Rep. David Ralston at the state Capitol on Thursday, March 11. Dr. Lister used a VTC telemedicine solution to examine Cagle and Ralston from more than 200 miles away at the Coffee Regional Medical Center.
VTC is breaking down the walls between big city doctors and rural patients and bringing timely and high-quality care to patients that need it, where and when they need it. Now that’s a new (and peachy) way of caring.