New technology brings expert physician care to patients’ bedsides through remote videoconferencing at Newton Medical Center (NMC).

The doctor’s bedside manner is perfect.

He looks you directly in the eye as he talks with you. He listens as you describe your symptoms. He takes your vital signs, checks your medical history, reviews your lab test results and admits you to the hospital. He answers your family’s questions and ensures them everything will be done to get you home quickly.

Everything proceeds smoothly and efficiently, just the way you’d expect from NMC. The only difference is that the doctor is in his home office in Kansas. He comes to you via a tele-videoconferencing monitor on a robotic stand equipped with the latest remote diagnostic technology.

It’s called telemedicine, and it’s a new program at NMC.

One of the latest innovations in hospital care, telemedicine connects patients and hospital clinical staff with expert physicians who work off-site. They might be in another hospital, in their office or at home.

No matter where they are located, the physicians are board-certified to practice medicine in the state of Kansas. They have gone through the same credentialing process required of all physicians who practice at NMC.

“We are pleased to bring the benefits of telemedicine to our patients,” said Val Gleason, chief executive officer of Newton Medical Center. “This new program will improve our ability to continue providing exceptional patient care. The team of telemedicine physicians we are working with are partners who collaborate with our own doctors and provide guidance and expertise to nurses and other clinical staff.”

How does it work?
A robot on a rolling stand is equipped with a digital stethoscope and other diagnostic equipment, as well as a videoconferencing monitor and camera that enable physicians from remote locations to communicate directly, face to face, with patients, family, doctors and staff at the hospital.

The physician can securely access a patient’s electronic medical record and test results. Working behind the scenes is a cloud-based telehealth network that enables the connection between patient and physician, and a team of telemedicine physicians specifically assigned to NMC. In this way, the physicians get to know the hospital staff and build the working partnership required for top-quality care.

The benefits?
The telemedicine program at NMC focuses on general inpatient care. The program allows physicians to quickly admit ER patients to the hospital, when necessary. This is a tremendous benefit in the middle of the night when patients ordinarily have to wait while on-call physicians arrive at the hospital.

Besides enhancing quality of care for patients at NMC, the program also enhances quality of life for the facility’s physicians and staff.

“The new program takes some of the stress off our current staff, especially by reducing the number of nighttime visits our doctors have to make to the hospital,” said Gleason. “It’s not news to anyone that the physician shortage is growing in the U.S., and telemedicine can help us continue to attract the best physicians and other clinical staff. This in turn offers long-range benefits to area residents who depend on Newton Medical Center to be there when they need us.”

Partnership with Eagle Telemedicine
The telemedicine program is made possible through a partnership between NMC and Eagle Telemedicine, an Atlanta-based provider that is a pioneer in the field. Sunflower Telemedicine LLC is Eagle Telemedicine’s Kansas physician partner.

“We are delighted to welcome Newton Medical Center to our telemedicine program,” said Talbot “Mac” McCormick, MD, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Telemedicine. “We have devoted more than eight years to perfecting our telemedicine models of care, and we appreciate the enthusiasm with which our program has been adopted at Newton Medical Center. It’s another proof point that telemedicine fills a vital need in healthcare today.”

Leading the Eagle team at NMC is Dr. Brian Hunt, a hospital-based physician in Lawrence, KS, who grew up just north of Arkansas City. He provides telemedicine services to hospitals across Kansas and the U.S. through Eagle Telemedicine. He and other Kansas-based physicians in the Eagle program, including Dr. Jason Kimball, Dr. Marc Scarbrough, and Dr. Rob Gorman, will work closely with other clinical staff as an integral part of the hospital’s healthcare team.

Widespread acceptance by patients, families and hospital staff
Eagle’s program receives high marks from patients and their families. Elderly patients, who can sometimes be the most resistant to new technology, usually have no problem with the robot; they appreciate the focus, quick responsiveness and uninterrupted attention from the remote physicians. Doctors and other clinical staff like it, too.

“I was one of the biggest skeptics when I first started hearing about telemedicine,” said Dr. Hunt. “But I learned it can be amazing in what it can do and how it can help take care of folks.”

On Tuesday, September 27, NMC will host a “Dinner with the Doctor” event to introduce the Eagle team and showcase the telemedicine technology. Additional details are forthcoming and will be available at www.newtonmed.com.

About Newton Medical Center
Newton Medical Center is a 103-bed hospital in Newton, Kan., providing comprehensive medical care to those in Harvey and surrounding counties. Services and specialties include emergency medicine, surgical services, occupational medicine, home health and more. The hospital, which also includes 12 primary care and specialty clinics, is conveniently located at the intersection of I-135 and Highway 50. For more information, call (316) 283-2700 or visit www.newtonmed.com.

About Eagle Telemedicine
Founded in 2008, Eagle Telemedicine was one of the first companies to emerge in the telemedicine physician service arena, and continues to serve as a pioneer in the industry today, offering practical solutions, management tools, and innovation through the use of telemedicine. Eagle currently offers telemedicine programs and solutions in Hospitalist Medicine, Stroke and Acute Neurology, Psychiatric Care, and Critical Care, ID and Nephrology. The company was launched through Eagle Hospital Physicians, which develops and supports hospitalist physician practices serving hospitals in more than a dozen states. For more information, visit www.eagletelemedicine.com.

About Sunflower Telemedicine
Sunflower, “Kansans Taking Care of Kansans,” is a healthcare company committed to improving access to healthcare across the state. Sunflower provides telemedicine services to facilities across Kansas, and currently consists of four experienced Kansas physicians who are passionate about the contribution they are making to community hospitals through their remote visits. The physicians are Brian Hunt, MD, FACP; Jason Kimball, MD; Marc Scarbrough, MD; and Rob Gorman, MD. For more information, visit http://www.sunflowertelemedicine.com/home.html.