Connect and go: Better tech leads to tele-oncology expansion in Salina, Kan.

April-2015-Tammy-WalkerThe Tammy Walker Cancer Center (TWCC) in Salina, Kan., just added a second site to their growing tele-oncology program. According to Patient Navigator Lynn Marshall, tablets and better teleconferencing platforms have given TWCC the flexibility they need to expand their reach to a second clinic in North Central Kansas. 

 

“Telehealth used to be this giant piece of equipment that we had to have available and had to have connected …and there were so many things that could affect our ability to connect,” said Marshall. “But we just don’t have those issues anymore. If we’re connecting via Zoom,we just connect and if we’re connecting with our Polycom, it just works.” 

Moreover, the latest telemedicine technology has made telemedicine consultations more convenient for patients. Marshall explains that for their first telehealth clinic with Ellsworth County Medical Center, patients were scheduled in a block for one day: Thursday afternoons. That meant Thursday afternoons needed to be free for both the patient and the referring physician, which any busy doctor or patient can vouch is difficult to coordinate. Instead of restricting scheduling to a defined block, the new telehealth clinic will connect patients with providers whenever they are available. 

“Our goal is to have all providers credentialed with all of the facilities so we can take the next available [provider] for an urgent patient, or provide patients with the doctor of their choice. So we want it to be anytime [a patient] calls to schedule an appointment, if they want telehealth, we can make that happen.” 

Marshall believes this flexibility will be a boon to their rural, aging population, who have been overwhelmingly accepting of telemedicine. 

“They do like it and they appreciate and value their time and the fact that they’re not driving anywhere for the service that they need. I’ve never had anyone express dissatisfaction with telehealth. And we do a lot of it.” 

Along the way, HTRC has provided technical assistance to TWCC throughout their telehealth assessment and implementation. Marshall explained that though the TWCC telehealth program has had fits and starts over the last five years, HTRC has been an invaluable resource. 

For help getting your telehealth program off the ground, contact HTRC at 877-643-HTRC.

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