Tele-Health explores superintendent’s ear during presentation

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The medical team of Meg Yarbrough, Dr. Winston Price, Misty Griffin and Cecilia Smith brought the Tele-Health system to Rotary this week. Below, Cochran gets his check up through Tele-Health.

Rotary Club members in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting were actually able to look inside Decatur County Schools Superintendent Tim Cochran’s ear, thanks to a presentation on how the school’s Tele-Health system works.

Dr. Winton Price, a pediatrician from Amelia Medical Center, was joined by three school nurses to not only talk about the system that allows physicians to see patients without going to the office, but also to demonstrate how it is used.

The program is of special interest to Rotary since the club has raised funds in years 2016 and 2017 to install a system in two of the schools.

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Dr. Price said that there are now five schools that have the system available, thanks to grants that were successfully pursued.

He went on to address how the Tele-Health system can help serve residents of the 101 rural counties in Georgia that lack transportation and facilities to provide health care to those who need it.

The way it works in the school is demonstrated by an incident recalled by school nurse, Meg Yarbrough. She said a mother brought her child to school one day and asked the nurse what an itchy rash on her daughter’s arm was. The nurse made a phone call to Amelia Medical Center, and with the use of tele-medicine, Dr. Price was able to look at the arm, make a diagnosis, prescribe medication, and assure the school it was not contagious.

The beauty of the system is that the children do not have to miss any school in order to see a physician and their parents do not have to take time off from work, or travel any distance to accomplish the visit. Through the system, there is the capability to connect to specialists all over the state—again saving time, travel and expense.

Once the visit is concluded, the nurse documents the visit and it is billed to the child’s insurance.

With the use of a special, hand-held camera and instruments, they can show the inside of an ear or throat and the physician can see it in his office. One thing they cannot accomplish is to be able to accurately prescribe a strep throat. It is still necessary to do a swab test to confirm that diagnosis.

One other drawback mentioned that limits success of the program, according to Dr. Price, is that his office doesn’t have a dedicated person on site to answer the calls immediately. “They must fit in to our schedule, and we need to build the capacity to serve other counties.”

He allows that Tele-Health is not the wave of the future, but that the wave is now.

“People want health care when they want it,” and it is even being used for urgent and emergency care centers, when health care is taken care of electronically. “You don’t have to sit in the ER for hours waiting to be seen.”