Autumn Care welcomes new technology

Published 9:19 pm Friday, March 9, 2018

Autumn Care of Suffolk is moving into the new age of health care with the introduction of telemedicine at its facility.

Autumn Care, a transitional facility owned by Saber Healthcare Group, introduced the “doctor on wheels” back in January, and officials say the system has greatly improved patient care.

“It is a great way of having a doctor on call without actually having a doctor on site,” said Autumn Care administrator Brock Bakos.

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The new telemedicine technology is a cart with two computer monitors, a stethoscope and a state of the art camera attached to a rolling cart. The device itself doesn’t look much different than what can be seen scooting around other medical facilities, but it does have many more advantages.

Autumn Care does not have a physician on site 24 hours a day, and the introduction of the telemedicine allows the physicians to stay home during their off hours. This technology also allows for less frequent hospital visits and better patient comfort.

“People in this environment are more susceptible to acute episodes, and the hospital isn’t always the best option,” Bakos said. “This provides an emergency room physician via video conferencing.”

With just a couple clicks of the mouse, a doctor can appear on the screen and has the ability to look at assessment results immediately as well as view the patient. The camera has the ability to zoom close to a patient to examine any wounds or areas of pain if necessary.

“We have been using it as much as we can. It really helps with family and patient comfort,” said Director of Nursing Roger Bailey. “It makes patients less uneasy, because they can see the doctor face-to-face, and patients have the ability to describe what is going on directly.”

While a traditional emergency room physician is attempting to juggle multiple patients all over a hospital, the telemedicine doctors strictly handle these cases. It allows for the patients to get immediate care without any type of wait.

Formerly, the communication between a hospital physician and the facility at Autumn Care was difficult because it always involved a middleman that didn’t have much medical knowledge, according to Bailey.

“The communication and the handoff with the physicians is much easier, because you are talking directly to a doctor,” Bailey said. “There is no more middle man.”

Even after the “doctor on wheels” interacts with the patient, the strong communication continues. The following day, the physician that works at Autumn Care will be contacted by the telemedicine physician to go over the case.

“There are no more middle of the night phone calls for our physicians,” Bakos said. “There is also no miscommunication about the patient.”

Currently the telemedicine apparatus can only use a stethoscope attachment, but the facility is looking forward to adding more. Tools to measure pulse, blood pressure and temperature are available. These new attachments will make it easier to give vital signs straight to the physician.