Hospitals Increasingly Turning to Telemedicine

Inka Bajandas | The News-Review | December 4, 2011

Rick Wafler was skeptical before his first appointment with a nurse in Roseburg since he lives 150 miles away in Crescent City, Calif. Instead of driving to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the 59-year-old Air Force veteran drives to the Crescent City VA clinic. Once there, he sits in a private room in front of a computer. “The first time I did this, I was a little shocked,” Wafler said. “I thought, ‘How can this work?'

Wafler is among a growing number of veterans treated through telemedicine, which connects doctors and patients, often over vast distances, through the Internet and phone. Technology to treat patients remotely has existed for many years, and the Roseburg VA has used telemedicine to a limited degree for nearly a decade. But its use has exploded recently. The Roseburg VA this year hired a telemedicine coordinator and four technicians specializing in telemedicine. The hospital joins others nationwide that are expanding telemedicine programs...