MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mon Health is upping its telehealth concept.
Officials said it has evolved to include cardiology telemedicine, which can help improve health outcomes by promoting preventive care and increasing access.
Dr. Bradford Warden, an Interventional Cardiologist from the Mon Health Heart & Vascular Center, conducts cardiac patient visits regularly from Morgantown with patients in Parkersburg, Weston and other locations.
“There are a lot of people that just don’t like to drive up here, and there are a lot of people who can’t drive up here because they don’t have transportation to get all the way up here,” Warden said.
The concept brings the technology and care from Mon Health on J.D. Anderson Drive directly to facilities just miles away from where the care is needed, at a cost savings to all parties. If it weren’t an option in rural communities, Warden said many wouldn’t seek the care or even know they were at risk—the very problem he believes the concept can address head-on.
“The patient can actually come pretty close to home and come into a clinical setting and have a normal clinic appointment, so it really does allow people to stay closer to home,” Warden said. “They’re not wasting a lot of their time driving a couple of hours up here and a couple of hours home.”
During the visit, she has in-person contact with a nurse who begins the appointment and establishes video or audio contact with doctors in Morgantown. The nurses act on behalf of the doctors, providing the data and information from the patient. But the visit also includes virtual face-to-face interaction with the doctor, which Warden said is very important to the doctor and supportive for the patient.
“They can actually put it over the patient’s heart; there are four places where we usually listen to the heart, and they can move it there, and I can hear what’s coming through the stethoscope as if I were there with a stethoscope listening to them,” Warden said.
Patients now develop a relationship with the local clinic nearby, making it more likely they will continue care. Dr. Warden said the routine can develop better habits, reduce risk factors, and improve the quality of life in rural communities.
“A lot of things they are addressing are the risk factors that can contribute to an eventual problem,” Warden said. “And if you get those things under control early and can continue after them, you end up not developing that secondary disease.”
Telehealth saves travel costs and increases access, making it an area of potential growth in medical treatment. Dr. Warden believes telehealth is gaining momentum and could be used for many other general treatments for families.
“Certainly, the future could be part of that, insurance companies having their clinics- all sorts of opportunities out there” Warden said. “Yep, we’re going to see more telehealth.”