Telemedicine could create more access to healthcare on the shore

telemedicine at PRMC

Access to specialized health care for children on Maryland's Eastern Shore is beyond limited according to health care professionals, in fact child specialists don't even exist on this side of the bridge.

Dr. Laura Kelley, medical director of the pediatric hospitals group at  Children's National located at PRMC, is all too familiar with those problems.

"It's as underserved as anywhere in the country and this is really reflected throughout the rural regions, but the Eastern Shore is interesting in that there's a lot of families and a lot of children, so as cumulatively we have great numbers of kids but , no specialists," Kelley said.

That's why Kelley was in Annapolis Friday, speaking to the Eastern Shore delegation about why there's a need to expand telemedicine access in the area. 

Kelley said it's already used at PRMC in areas including cardiology and diabetes, but the future can hold much more, even helping with mental behavior. 

As it stands right now, for most children to receive specialized care they have to travel two, three hours across the bridge. 

A trip Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes (D) said some people can't make because of financial situations.

"I've heard on many occasions from my constituents that are having to travel the distance and they're finding themselves not being able to come up with the money to put in their gas tank," Sample-Hughes said.

The solution would be to create a telemedicine hub either in Salisbury or elsewhere on the shore where Children's hospital could connect patients to doctors with the click of a button. Reducing costs for travel while increasing access.

"It's a very important issue and it's a very urgent issue to address, so I think the new way of medicine is going to be towards virtual visits and this is just the beginning," Kelley said.

Those with Children's National estimate that the telemedicine services field is positioned to increase to 7 million patients by 2018, up from just 350,000 in 2013.






Categories: Local News, Maryland