Telemedicine accepted more by NJ patients, young and old
As more people become comfortable with the concept, telemedicine is joining the menu of doctor's offices and health systems across the Garden State.
It's a daily dose of convenience for both patients and physicians, but can also do wonders during major natural disasters such as 2012's Hurricane Sandy.
"I think there's a lot of opportunity," said Amy Mansue, president of the southern region for RWJBarnabas Health. "We're just scratching the surface."
Throughout the RWJBarnabas Health system, telemedicine is working in a number of ways. In its simplest form, patients are connected virtually with outside doctors for primary care visits. Patients see a doctor "face to face," and can receive prescriptions based on their condition.
RWJ physicians like the option, Mansue said, because it frees them up to do more clinical work, rather than paperwork.
"And quite frankly it's something that we're seeing younger generations of people really using," she added.
In a national survey, 70 percent of people under age 35 said they had been part of a telemedicine visit within the past 12 months.
But older individuals, with the right device in hand, are not lost on the potential benefits of remote visits. Mansue said RWJBarnabas Health uses telemedicine for chronically ill patients as well. It prevents would-be frequent visitors from trekking back and forth, perhaps for visits that would not be covered by insurance.
Through a long-distance chat, patients can be checked on a daily basis.
"Telemedicine is always available, but I think in an acute need like a natural disaster, the effective use of it is highlighted even more," Hammad Shah, president and CEO of SOC Telemed, told New Jersey 101.5.
More than a dozen hospitals throughout the state have teamed up with the Virginia-based company to supplement their telemedicine needs. SOC Telemed provides physicians as well as a platform for telemedicine services.
"In anticipation of an emergency event, we will work with the local hospitals to test their technology, to make sure their infrastructure is ready," Shah said. "We will also make sure that we have on our side enough physicians that are licensed in New Jersey to treat the patients that may be coming."