Obamacare: The future of doctor exams

4:55 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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MILLERSBURG --  Roger Lovell received specialized care for stroke without leaving Holmes County's Pomerene Hospital in rural Millersburg.

"Saved us a lot of money for my wife to have to run up to Akron or where ever they would have to send me," Roger says.

Dr. Bill Reisinger runs Pomerene's Emergency Department.  

"A small rural hospital can't afford to have a neurologist on staff 24/7 and this allows that to take place," Dr. Reisinger says.

He's talking about a simple webcam that allows Akron General Neurologist, Dr. Jim Gebel, see patients remotely from a computer, smart phone or tablet.

Because Dr. Gebel can see and speak to the patient, it often avoids unnecessary transfers to bigger hospitals.

"And that not only saves the patient and the healthcare system a lot of money but it also helps those small rural hospitals that are in those critical access areas to basically stay in business," Dr. Gebel says.

"The cost savings, I would say, is about thirty grand a patient. The reason is before we would have to fly patients up to Cleveland and that's about $30,000," Dr. Reisinger says. 

The Affordable Healthcare Act targets accessiblity, affordability and efficiency and the telemedicine program achieves all of that.

Akron General's IT department put the computer program together and says the most expensive part was the $60 web cam.

But more importantly, the instant access to a specialist saves critical time when there's only a three hour window to give stroke medication.

The pilot program is currently just between Akron General and Pomerene and only focuses on stroke.  They plan to re-evaluate the program in six months and perhaps expand it to other hospitals and specialties.
















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