How do you staff a geriatric behavioral health unit when the attending physician is out unexpectedly? The staff at Novant Health Franklin Medical Center had the answer: telemedicine.
Franklin Medical Center had previously worked with Beverly Jones, MD and knew he had been supporting the geriatric behavioral health unit at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center. Jan Kelly, manager of medical staff services, contacted Dr. Jones immediately to see if he was available to round on the patients in the geriatric behavioral health unit at Franklin Medical Center.
“We acted immediately,” said Lisa Neville, nurse manager of the geriatric behavioral health unit. “We wanted to make sure our patients were getting the best care possible.”
As the staff at Franklin Medical Center was investigating the possibility of setting up teleconferencing software, Dr. Jones made a two-hour trip from Thomasville to Louisburg to visit the patients in the geriatric behavioral health unit that night.
“Using our streamlined credentialing process, we were able to credential a physician from one of our other Novant hospitals to come help us out,” explained Kelly. “I was so impressed with Dr. Jones’ cooperation and ability to think outside the box.”
The unit collaborated with Mark Elliott, information technology specialist at Franklin Medical Center. Since they needed a solution fast, they got approval to use RealPresence Desktop, a software program that was still in its beta stage. Through this new software system, Dr. Jones was able to speak to patients at Franklin Medical Center from a virtual video conference room at Thomasville Medical Center the very next day.
“Everyone was so accommodating,” explained Elliott. “It was really great teamwork that allowed all of this to happen.”
Since their initial foray into the world of telemedicine, Dr. Jones and the staff of Franklin Medical Center have used Office Communicator and a webcam to round on patients. In fact, the system works so well, Dr. Jones was able to speak with patients while attending a conference in Chicago. Travis Brown, information technology specialist at Forsyth Medical Center, delivered and tested the equipment before Dr. Jones left to ensure that everything would run smoothly.
With the best interest of the patients in mind, Novant Health employees embraced innovation and worked efficiently to cover the needs of the geriatric behavioral health unit.