Events, Telemedicine

Telemedicine: Value, real-life applications and keeping it simple, stupid

On the last day of the ATA conference, three panelists explored the value in telemedicine and why it’s key to apply the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle.

Cydne Marckmann, Geeta Nayyar, Ranya Habash and Eric Chetwynd at ATA 2017

L to R: Cydne Marckmann, Geeta Nayyar, Ranya Habash and moderator Eric Chetwynd at ATA 2017

It was one of the last sessions on the last day of this year’s ATA conference. But that didn’t stop three panelists — Dr. Cydne Marckmann, Dr. Geeta Nayyar and Dr. Ranya Habash — from talking about their passion for telemedicine.

Marckmann, a nurse practitioner who holds a doctorate of nursing practice from Frontier Nursing University, has practiced in primary care, emergency and sports medicine. Nayyar, a board-certified practicing physician, is the chief healthcare and innovation office for Femwell Group Health. Habash is a practicing ophthalmologist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and the CMO of Everbridge.

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Because all three panelists are telemedicine advocates, they provided unique insight on the value of the technology. For Marckmann, that value lies in sports medicine. In working with high schools and athletic trainers throughout the state of Washington, she’s seen immense worth in how telemedicine can be used to help athletes, particularly those suffering from concussions. “What [the athletic trainers] loved the most was the secure texting,” she said. Using a HIPAA-compliant platform to send pictures makes communication faster and easier, Marckmann added.

For Nayyar and Habash, a recent experience with telemedicine made its value a little more personal. While at the zoo with her nanny earlier this month, Nayyar’s five-year-old daughter Sonia fell and hit her eye. The nanny immediately called Nayyar, who was out of town, and asked what to do. “I’m a rheumatologist, not an eye doctor,” Nayyar said. “I assessed the situation first as Doctor Mom, then as a physician.”

Conveniently, Nayyar happens to know an eye doctor: Habash. Using a HIPAA-compliant platform, Habash was able to see Sonia’s eye and save the family from having to head to the emergency room. “I was able to save them all that time, hassle and effort,” she said. “You’ve just seen the immense value of telehealth. I don’t think it ever hits home until it really happens to you.”

“Sonia loves Ranya, by the way,” Nayyar added.

For Nayyar and Habash, this real-life example made telemedicine seem simple to use. And Habash stressed the importance of keeping it that way. “One of the first things we learn in medical school is ‘keep it simple, stupid.’ How can we apply that to telehealth?” she asked.

For Marckmann, the simplicity factor of telemedicine ties in not only with the athletic trainers, but also with athletes’ parents. “They loved it because they didn’t have to take off work,” she said. “It really, really made a difference.”

Nayyar agreed that the KISS principle is applicable. “We offer the continuity of care,” she said. “Our patients would much rather see us, virtually or otherwise.”

Photo: Erin Dietsche