Residents of the lower Eastern shore of Maryland who may require advanced lung surgery will soon be able to meet with clinical leaders in thoracic surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore via video teleconferencing.
According to an announcement from UMMC, the video teleconferencing consultations, which will enable the patients to receive care without leaving the shore, are starting this month due to an expanded telemedicine partnership between UMMC and Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) in Berlin, Md. UMMC, the University of Maryland Medical System’s academic medical center, already provides around-the-clock remote monitoring of ICU patients at AGH as part of the University of Maryland eCare network. Now, residents of the area who could require advanced lung surgery, including those with diagnosed or suspected cancers, will be able to leverage this telemedicine option as well.
By video teleconferencing, UMMC thoracic surgeons will virtually consult with a patient at AGH and review CT scans and other tests to see if he or she is a surgical candidate. The entire work-up and pre-operative consultation is done locally. If a surgical procedure is needed, it will be performed at UMMC. There will be six surgeons in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at UMMC who will take part in the program.
“We expect that these appointments will be very much like a patient visit in our office here in Baltimore,” Joseph Friedberg, M.D., the Charles Reid Edwards Professor of Surgery and Head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Thoracic Surgeon-in-Chief of the University of Maryland Medical System, said in a statement. “We want this experience to be very convenient for patients and to decrease some of the stress they are experiencing related to their diagnosis.” We are very pleased to partner with Atlantic General in this first step toward building a robust thoracic surgery telemedicine program in Maryland and the region.”
The program will include post-operative and follow-up telemedicine visits as well, officials noted. What’s more, eventually, patients will be able to receive second opinions as well as treatment planning, via telemedicine from UMMC specialists for a variety of cancer diagnoses. These visits will be conducted in coordination with the medical oncologists at Atlantic General’s new John H. “Jack” Burbage Regional Cancer Care Center, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2018.
“The goal of expanding the telemedicine service at Atlantic General Hospital is to utilize the latest technological advances we have in an effort to save patients and their families from traveling more than two hours one-way to Baltimore from Berlin to be evaluated and ensure that at least their initial care can be done in the patients’ local community,” said Marc T. Zubrow, M.D., vice president, telemedicine and medical director, eCare, University of Maryland Medical System.