Q&A with University of Delaware®

Video conferencing connects patients struggling with mobility, resources, to specialized, affordable and convenient care.

“Video conferencing removes the burden of distance [and] enhances the expertise within our team by giving us— and our patients— direct access to specialists wherever they happen to be.”

With the ability to affordably and easily connect patients and providers across thousands of miles, video conferencing is drastically improving the lives of people whose ability to seek care is restricted either by their location or the complexity of their conditions.

We recently spoke to Dr. Allen Prettyman, director at the Nurse Managed Health Center (NMHC) at the University of Delaware, to learn how video communication through Lifesize connects patients with the most appropriate healthcare providers, regardless of location.

Can you talk about your patient-centered healthcare philosophy and how that differentiates the NMHC?

The philosophy is this: Patients are struggling on two levels. They’re struggling with chronic diseases, which are burdens in and of themselves, and they don’t always know who to connect with or where to go for treatment. In addition, they also struggle to navigate the healthcare system and its overwhelming bureaucracy.

We deliver exceptional care by connecting them with the most appropriate providers— medical doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, dieticians, psycho- and physical therapists, all with various specialties—based on exactly where they are in the course of their treatment.

Can you give us an example of how Lifesize has helped you put NMHC’s philosophy into action?

Video conferencing removes the burden of distance. It also enhances the expertise within our team by giving us—and our patients—direct access to specialists wherever they happen to be.

For example, before video conferencing, we couldn’t provide adequate care for our 2,000-plus Parkinson’s patients. To see specialists, they had to travel either two hours up to Philadelphia or down to Johns Hopkins, which is even farther. This isn’t a good thing for someone with a movement disorder, and we were committed to enhancing their care.

In particular, Parkinson’s patients receive treatment from neurologists who are specialists in movement disorders. These specialists are a rare breed, and they prefer to associate with large institutions. One of our colleagues introduced us to Dr. Ray Dorsey, a movement-specialized neurologist at the University of Rochester, and now we’re able to offer him as our telehealth Parkinson’s treatment provider. Real-time, crystal-clear connections allow Dr. Dorsey to see patients’ tremors and observe the way they walk and perform other motor tasks.

The other side of Parkinson’s is the mental health piece and the associated depression, anxiety, compulsions, et cetera. Again, there are very few people who specialize in Parkinson’s-related mental health. With Lifesize, we’re able to partner with Dr. Roseanne Dobkin at Rutgers University in New Jersey and regularly connect with her via video conference. In this manner, the whole team comes together.

Aside from connecting with specialists, are there any other applications of video conferencing at the center?

We recently opened a satellite office in a homeless service center where a nurse practitioner on the ground connects to a nurse practitioner here. We are just stepping into the water, and we have great plans for it.

In addition, Lifesize is now connecting us with a couple of the major physical therapy classrooms. We’re able to call into their anatomy lab, where we can take advantage of live-streaming and the ability to record. There are only so many people who can cluster around a table.

What made you choose Lifesize in particular?

Lifesize was highly recommended by another physician who used it to consult with his Parkinson’s patients. He felt it was the perfect fit, both for connecting with patients and for connecting his services to larger institutions. We immediately saw the opportunity to enrich our services and level of care.

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