In healthcare, time matters. The time it takes for a patient to reach the Emergency Department. The time it takes for lab results to be returned. The time it takes for a patient to know what comes next.
Eastern Maine Medical Center has entered an agreement that will not only save valuable time for heart care patients, but will also establish instant access to specialists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for second opinions and complicated case consultations.
“Most patients can receive all their care at EMMC, though there are some patients who benefit from consultations with specialists at other organizations,” explains Alan Wiseman, MD, FACC, cardiology section chief at EMMC. In the past, EMMC physicians would send these patients’ echocardiogram or heart catheterization images on a DVD to specialists at Brigham and Women’s for review. The process would take at least a day or two.
Now, through a secure network connection, the same information and images can be shared instantly with physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“When a physician is performing a heart catheterization, they can now share images of the patient’s heart in real time with Brigham and Women’s specialists, and develop a plan of care for the patient while the patient is still on the table,” adds Rob Cunningham, RT(R), EMMC clinical analyst.
Most of the consults result in the patient staying at EMMC and continuing to receive their care here. However, when a transfer is needed, this decision can also be made much faster.
“We’ve developed a system of rapid transmission of imaging without losing time,” says Dr. Wiseman. “Plus, we can video conference in real time while simultaneously reviewing studies. It’s as good as having a clinical colleague right next to you in the catheterization lab. We’re extending expertise across borders in a much more efficient way that is beneficial to the patient.”
“Brigham and Women’s Hospital highly values this unique collaboration with EMMC,” adds David Morrow, MD, MPH, director of Levine Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Brigham and Women’s. “Our ability to communicate with EMMC physicians in real time has greatly enhanced our model of team-based care across our institutions and has the potential to benefit patients with the most complicated medical problems.”
The Heart Care team and Information Systems staff at EMMC collaborated with Dr. Morrow and Pinak (Binny) Shah, MD, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Brigham and Women’s, as well as the hospital’s IT staff.