Telemedicine cardiology consultations are a hot topic right now because cardiac issues are often the number one reason for patient transfers from small community hospitals. In many cases, transfer is not necessary, and patients only need a consultation to determine whether they can be retained and treated. With a TeleCardiologist is on call, local hospitals can confidently keep patients who don’t require invasive cardiology — the stress of transfer is avoided to everyone’s relief.
TeleCardiology specialists can also determine which patients can be referred to outpatient care after immediate treatment in the ED. This keeps patients with non-critical conditions from having to be admitted to the hospital, a stress-reliever for these vulnerable patients.
With cardiovascular disease striking 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. population and the American College of Cardiology estimating deaths from heart disease will increase 128.5 percent between 2000 and 2050, this is a critical need that Eagle TeleCardiology can help meet.
Let’s examine the role a TeleCardiologist plays in common cardiology emergencies, to see just how valuable they are to any local community hospital.
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How Telemedicine Cardiology Consultations Address 5 Crisis Conditions
With access to TeleCardiology, a patient’s electrical activity results, ― such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), and other diagnostic studies like echocardiograms, cardiac CT scans, cardiac MRI scans, etc., can be transmitted to and interpreted by a remote cardiologist allowing patients to receive real-time diagnoses.
A TeleCardiologist can also provide valuable consultative one-on-one assistance to hospitalists and inpatient providers during their management of patients with more challenging cardiac issues. An e-stethoscope operated by an on-site nurse allows the TeleCardiologist to remotely listen to the patient’s heart and monitor the patient’s pulse. Through the TeleCardiologist’s live video feed, the patient’s heart monitor is also clearly visible at the bedside during the consult.
In every way, this TeleSpecialist functions as a member of the local hospital team, working in close tandem to ensure each patient gets optimal treatment. In emergencies, a TeleCardiologist also rises to the occasion ― calling out orders from the bedside, just as any critical care specialist on-site would.
Let’s examine 5 common crises that typically bring patients to the hospital and the treatments provided by a telemedicine cardiology consultation:
A patient with arrhythmia may be diagnosed with tachycardia or atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF), with serious consequences ― potentially cardiac arrest or stroke. A TeleCardiologist can determine the cause of arrhythmia and determine next steps, including medications or invasive treatment.
The TeleCardiologist has remote access to the heart rate monitor at the patient’s bedside, as well as one-on-one consult with the patient. There is no delay in treatment, as the TeleCardiologist is “present” virtually via advanced audio/video technology, working with well-trained on-site teams.
With the risk of stroke, heart failure, or other complications, a telemedicine cardiology consultation is instrumental in reviewing results of all diagnostic tests to detect A-fib. ECG or echocardiograph results are accessible via secure transmission to the telemedicine physician, allowing the virtual provider to identify any signs of A-fib.
The TeleCardiologist can also conduct a virtual bedside visit to speak with the patient about symptoms like chest pain, and determine if there is encephalopathy/confusion. This interview can be conducted while waiting for chest x-rays, scans and other test results to come back ― so again, there is no delay in treatment.
To diagnose cardiomyopathy and potential for heart failure, a TeleCardiologist can order and review a chest X-ray, echocardiogram or ECG, as well as blood tests, to determine next steps.
In some cases, blood tests are ordered by a hospitalist to rule out issues with the patient’s kidney, thyroid and liver. A blood test can measure iron levels to determine extreme anemia, which can result in cardiomyopathy. Another blood test measures a protein produced in the heart — B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP). BNP might rise with heart failure, which is a common complication of cardiomyopathy.
The TeleCardiologist can review all test results and symptoms to determine the best protocol for treatment including medication, lifestyle changes and recommend procedures if necessary.
A symptom of coronary artery disease, chest pain can be evaluated by the TeleCardiologist, along with other symptoms like heaviness, tightness or squeezing.
While these are symptoms of many cardiac conditions, an experienced specialist is able to determine if the pain is Ischemic, angina, which is a sign that there isn’t enough blood flow to the heart. Depending on severity, a TeleCardiologist will recommend lifestyle changes, medication, angioplasty and/or surgery.
Some heart enzymes leak into the blood of patients that have suffered an Acute Myocardial Infarction. A TeleCardiologist can order blood tests to detect these enzymes if the patient presents with other symptoms of a heart attack.
The TeleCardiologist will monitor heart attack symptoms and test results to determine next steps, including medications, or whether invasive procedures like angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) are necessary.
Eagle Cardiologists available in minutes for a telemedicine cardiology consultation
For a local community hospital, Eagle’s TeleCardiology specialists can be available at a moment’s notice ― whether it’s an ER emergency or a hospitalized patient. Eagle’s telemedicine providers are trained and experienced in handling virtual diagnostics, working with on-site teams to provide patients with high quality care and the best possible outcomes.
Given the demographics of heart disease, this high-level service has the ability to make a positive impact on a large part of the local population. The TeleCardiologist’s capability to handle potentially life-threatening emergencies quickly, while keeping patients from a long-distance transfer, provides the community with a strong sense of security in their hospital.