Eagle Telemedicine continues our series of physician conversations on telemedicine, its role in health care and how it will be a force in future quality care.
Dr. Joanne Lapetina is an internal medicine and emergency medicine physician, with a specialty in pediatrics. She has practiced with Eagle Telemedicine for the past eight years and recruits physicians to join the telemedicine field. Dr. Lapetina graduated from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1989.
Eagle: What appeals to you about working in telemedicine?
Dr. Lapetina: I feel we can bring big city medicine to rural communities that don’t have a lot of physicians and specialists. We can care for these patients without them having to be transported to larger facilities. And I can work in several states, sharing my experience where it is most needed. Another big advantage is working from home. If you have children, or like me, a medical condition that means minimizing exposure to contagion, we can practice critical care and serve patients from home. It also allows for more freedom in scheduling appointments in our personal lives.
Eagle: How are your patients reacting to telemedicine?
Dr. Lapetina: I haven’t really had any issues with patient trust. For older patients, I like to go back to the days of the first moon landing and ask, ‘do you remember when the doctor talked to the astronauts? That was telemedicine!’ I tell them, we simply dusted off the telemetry that has been around for years and now we’re using it on Earth, and in the future, on Mars!
Eagle: Are hospitals reacting positively to telemedicine?
Dr. Lapetina: Colleagues in the hospitals often ask how I can provide care using telemedicine. I tell them it’s very simple. It’s as if you’re standing in front of the bed, in the patient’s room while the nurse is examining them. It’s the exact same medicine and care, only via telemedicine.
Eagle: What’s the best way for hospitals to engage in telemedicine?
Dr. Lapetina: Embrace the technology and the people providing it for them. This creates a working partnership between us and people on the ground. At Eagle, we consider ourselves partners with our hospitals. We will come in early if a hospital is getting slammed with admissions. We will give counsel on equipment purchases, based on our breadth of experience working with big and small hospitals, and help CEOs make decisions on radiology, EMR and other equipment. The hospitals value our opinions and recommendations.
Eagle: Any tips for physicians starting out in telemedicine?
Dr. Lapetina: Telemedicine is high-tech medicine. It’s its own language. A physician new to telemedicine needs to start slowly and learn the language. You will build proficiency in this language over time and once you’ve adapted to using the technology it will become second nature like any other medicine. At Eagle, we offer webside chats and technical assistance for the physicians to help them resolve any technical issues.
Eagle: Any personal success story you would like to share?
Dr. Lapetina: I have a pediatric specialty. One night I got a call about a very sick child at a small hospital facility, did a telemedicine consultation and determined he needed to be transferred. The nurses were in a panic. I stayed live on the screen with the staff for an hour, making sure the ambulance got there and the patient was enroute to a larger facility. Providing pediatric specialty care helped the nurses and was a comfort to the mother, knowing a specialist was taking care of her child.
For more information about Eagle Telemedicine’s services and program solutions visit https://www.eagletelemedicine.com/telemedicine-services/.