JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — Doctors at East Tennessee State University are now able broadcast lectures to rural doctors and nurses in nearby Appalachian counties, and soon doctors, nurses and even patients will be able to communicate back.
The University’s telemedicine program kicked off last week with a lecture on oncology broadcast to providers in five participating counties: Hancock and Johnson in Tennessee, Harlan in Kentucky, and Smyth and Tazewell in Virginia.
Doctors and nurses there can watch the lectures for continuing education credits.
Barbara Sucher, assistant dean of continuing medical education at the ETSU College of Medicine, told the Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/JIaQFd) the lectures are designed to help patients by providing information that is immediately useful to their doctors.
While the broadcasts currently are one-way, beginning in the fall the telemedicine system will have the equipment in place to allow for two-way interaction. That means that some patients requiring follow-up visits for specialty care will to able to go to local providers but still see and talk with their doctors in Johnson City.
Sucher said that sometimes patients who live far away do not return to the university’s medical practice for follow-up care for reasons that include the cost and time needed to travel.
“And so what we’re trying to do is maintain that care, that continuity of care, between the specialist and the patient,” she said.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant for $191,600 has helped the school to develop its telemedicine program. ETSU kicked in another $96,000.
The broadcasts are part of a continuing medical education program called Grand Rounds. Four hour-long Grand Rounds are broadcast each week on subjects like internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and psychiatry.
“And they’re sort of the bread and butter of what’s going on in medicine today,” Sucher said of the lectures.
Information from: Johnson City Press, http://www.johnsoncitypress.com