Bringing Health Care Home

The Parkview Heart Institute integrates a new telemedicine platform to deliver cardiology care remotely to patients.
Feb 5, 2018
Deborah C. Gerbers
Tim Brumbeloe & provided

In a partnership with Professional Emergency Physicians and Northeast Internal Medicine, the Parkview Heart Institute video technology allows admitted patients to communicate from their own community hospitals with a Fort Wayne cardiologist. It works with surrounding facilities including Parkview LaGrange Hospital, Parkview Noble Hospital, Parkview Wabash Hospital, Parkview Huntington Hospital and Parkview Whitley Hospital. Jolynn Suko, senior vice president of neurosciences and virtual health at Parkview, explains how virtual technologies can deliver different models of health care. 

“Telemedicine is really broadened into ‘virtual health’,” she says. “It ranges from a video visit with a primary care physician, to online appointment scheduling, to critical care.”

Virtual health technology provides greater access to medical care, especially for those patients living in rural communities outside the city of Fort Wayne. Some examples of Virtual Health that Parkview provides include – direct care to patients in their Parkview OnDemand platform; specialty services to outlying facilities in the areas of ICU, cardiology, psychiatry and neurology; and device integration (i.e. weight monitoring for diabetes). Parkview also plans to provide follow ups after surgery to avoid unnecessary visits in person.

“At a high level, we want to keep patients in the right setting of care,” says Suko. “We don’t want patients traveling to Fort Wayne if it’s not really necessary. Particularly in rural communities in surrounding counties, we want to keep people in their home settings with loved ones. But, we also want to bring in the resources of specialists to intervene in these communities. Our telecardiology experience, for example, allows patients to stay in their own communities but, if needed, we can provide intervention and further treatment in Fort Wayne.”

Michael GeRue, chief operations officer at the Parkview Heart Institute/Cardiovascular Service Line, says telemedicine is a great way for physicians to monitor their cardiology patients. “Since opening this facility in 2012, we have often been near capacity,” he says. “Especially for people living in rural outlying areas, we wanted to reduce the burden of traveling to Fort Wayne for a short, one-night stay in many cases. There are four key diagnoses for cardiac patients in the ER – syncope, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and NMI – and we developed criteria accordingly that the community hospitals and ER physicians can follow for the best plan of care.”

With over 170 patients at any given time, the heart institute has 25 cardiologists, all of whom use telecardiology to communicate with their patients. They have provided 312 consultations, where 89 percent of patients stayed in their own community hospitals. And of the 11 percent who transferred, 60 percent of them had a necessary procedure in Fort Wayne. 

There has been tremendous patient feedback with telecardiology as a way to see a well-trained physician providing guidance, and it can sometimes be better than a face-to-face visit because patients have the doctor’s immediate attention and dedication. There are other benefits to using telemedicine as well. “From a financial standpoint, it has limited the number of unnecessary transfers” says GeRue. “We are keeping the patient locally, they don’t have an EMS transfer and routinely have a shorter stay – all of this is helping us reduce to cost of care within our region for our patients.”

Telemedicine has been around since the 1990s, but there are now more capabilities as technology continues to evolve. “From an industry perspective, it is rapidly evolving,” says Suko. “We look at what is safe to be doing via telemedicine, and assess the risks we want to take with this new technology. One of the earliest applications for telemedicine was stroke care because of the evidence supporting that specific type of treatment for stroke patients in a timely manner. I think it’s becoming more mainstream now, as we realize all the different ways we can provide care with a virtual platform.”

“Telemedicine is an evolving field,” GeRue agrees. “It has helped us reduce our re-admissions, helped us partner more with our patients and support their transition home – all of this and our patients have been very satisfied with the care they receive.” 

Parkview Heart Institute/Parkview Regional Medical Center

Address: 11108 Parkview Circle Fort Wayne, Indiana 46845

Phone: (260) 266-1451


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