Telemedicine or telehealth programs use secure video connections, high definition imaging and other sophisticated technologies to allow specialists at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center to diagnose and propose treatment options for patients who are not sitting in the same exam room, hospital room or emergency department as the Swedish physician. Advancements in medical technology and online security suggest there are endless opportunities to expand access to care through telehealth.
In both urban and rural areas of Washington, transportation issues and physician shortages pose significant challenges for patients who require specialized care. Studies show patients benefit from the improved access to teams of highly qualified physicians that telehealth provides.
- Assures patients access to care when they need it and when time is critical for diagnosing and treating serious conditions
- Allows specialist physicians to practice more efficiently while supporting communities that don’t have specialty care available locally
- Reduces the amount of travel for both physicians and patients
In 2004 Swedish launched TeleICU to become the first hospital in Washington – and one of a handful of hospitals nationwide – to harness technology in order to improve access to specialized care.
In October 2007 Swedish launched its second telehealth program – Acute Telestroke – to use technology as a means of making available Swedish Neuroscience Institute stroke expertise to communities throughout Washington and the Pacific Northwest.
Since those first years, Swedish has added more telehealth programs, and its network of hospitals, emergency departments and medical practices has continued to grow. The TeleHealth Program makes it possible for adults and children to benefit from the knowledge and experience of Swedish specialists – no matter where they live.