May 13, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Many families can spend hours traveling to the doctor’s office to see their surgeon for their follow-up appointments. With parking and waiting in waiting room times, an entire work or school day can be lost. The whole process is expensive and time consuming.

All this could be a thing of the past though, as faculty from the University Of Utah School Of Medicine now brings surgical follow-up appointments into the child’s home. Called “Tele-Home”, the new system is being pioneered to reduce the global costs and inconvenience of surgical care. The University of Utah, using the Truclinic system, provides medical grade security and encryption allowing patients to safely and securely connect patients to their providers through video technology over their own computers and web cameras.

The University of Utah is a pioneer when it comes to providing medical appointments to the home. Catherine deVries, MD, is the pediatric urologist spearheading the Tele-Home effort in pediatric surgery. “We are still in the proof of concept phase, but we have had great response and interest and are planning to expand the service.” say Dr. deVries. “Other pediatric surgical specialties are interested in providing this service and are looking to us to see how we are doing it.”

The technology is easy to use. A unique code is provided to the parent over email. This code is used on the day of the appointment to enter a “virtual waiting” room. “ All you need is a web camera, a computer and a Google Chrome or Firefox web browser.  No additional software is required,” said deVries. 

“Families today are very tech savvy. Most kids can figure out an X-box and use an i-Pad even better than their parents—who generally know technology pretty well, too. If they use Skype or FaceTime to visit friends and family at a distance, why can’t they see their providers this way for appropriate clinical needs? The way our system is currently set up is not very efficient. For certain medical conditions a video consultation could not only be more efficient, but just as effective.

We are seeing a transformation in health care—telemedicine and telehealth applications are at the forefront of many of the solutions to better meet the needs of patients and providers. The University of Utah is excited to be a leader in health care innovation and to support new avenues to patient care such as Pediatric Urology Tele-Home.”

The University of Utah already conducts several hundreds of telemedicine consultations with rural patients who present from rural hospitals and clinics on the Utah Telehealth Network each year. This program builds on the nearly 20 years of experience providing medical care over video (telemedicine) by the University of Utah Health System and the Utah Telehealth Network.


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