Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Morgan Griffith on the Medical Innovations at Radford

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"Telemedicine Advances in the Ninth

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit a facility right here in the Ninth District that is making strides in health care innovation and improving patient care.

At the Radford Health and Rehab Center, some of the nurses will be wearing “smart glasses” as part of their wound care program. These glasses are equipped with a tiny camera, and will transmit a live feed of images the wearer sees to the supervising nurse. This will allow the supervisor to assist with assessing wound types and ensuring patients get the most accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. Additionally, a supervising nurse will in essence be “following” the nurse doing wound care, as if that supervising nurse were actually in the room. The supervisor can assess, evaluate, and assist nurses remotely, just as they might do in person.

We were able to watch from the Radford Health and Rehab Center’s conference room as a wound was being treated – a nurse in one room was advising a technician in another how to treat it. It was remarkable.

Patients may opt out of this program, but with less people in the room as a result of the smart glasses, their use by the nurse may make the patient feel less nervous and more at ease.

The Radford Health and Rehab Center is the first long term care facility to use this technology, though approximately 30 hospitals as well as Brown University make use of smart glasses to assist in training and improve their quality of care. Medical schools and emergency services training programs also use smart glasses.

While this technology is helpful in training medical students, it also seems to be beneficial to doctors. If doctors are able to see an image of a wound being transmitted to them from a long term care facility such as Radford Health and Rehab, the doctor would not necessarily have to travel to the facility to help with care. I can’t help but imagine that increasing the use of this sort of technology could help to address the shortage of doctors, especially in more rural areas.

From time to time, I learn of developments in health information technologies that not only amaze me, but that are truly innovative and have a significant impact on advancements in medical care. Previously, I have discussed in this column an internal medicine specialist at Toronto General Hospital and his team using an iPhone 4s, an $8 ball lens, a flashlight, and double-sided tape to create a sort of microscope that was then used to diagnose intestinal worm infections in students in rural Tanzania.

I am very intrigued by this smart glasses technology, and am pleased to see such advancements taking place here in our area. I have no doubt that many more great things are to come from the Fighting Ninth."