by Devin O’Shaughnessy
FM is looking to launch a pilot program, including a new system which could make a big difference with how kids visit their doctors.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care at a distance and could be utilized here at FM.
The college currently does not have a medical facility, or even a nurse or doctor on staff.
Dr. Irina Gelman, the director of Public Health from Fulton County, contacted President Swanger last summer in regards to a grant that could possibly cover the cost of the systems to be installed.
Dr. Dustin Swanger, President of the college stated, “I think it will be an advantage for students, particularly those who aren’t from here, because a lot of our local students will see their own doctor. In the past, if a student is here and they don’t have a local doctor, we will transport them, usually to Urgent Care, not Emergency Room, which is a little less expensive, but it’s mostly dependent on the severity of the injury. This would negate a lot of it because, you could go into one of the Telemedicine rooms, talk to a doctor, get a prescription, and they could send it to a local pharmacy and you could pick it up.”
The pilot system would include a room, located in the Public Safety office, which is always open, and would feature a laptop computer.
This laptop would then be connected to a Telemedicine network, where a doctor would be available to consult with a patient regarding whatever the problem may be.
“We had to find a room that could be private when it was needed for that, and we looked to Public Safety, and there was actually a camera, which we removed from the room,” said Swanger.
When considering these new systems, a few questions have been proposed, such as whether or not the patient will get to choose a specific doctor in the area, or if it was limited to the county’s doctors and nurses on hand.
Swanger also had the same questions, and revealed that any student can indeed choose a specific doctor that they feel more comfortable with.
“…In talking to several doctors, many have said that they don’t necessarily need to see or touch the patient. If they talk to the patient, they can pretty much figure out what’s going on,” said Swanger.
The college has been approached about Telemedicine a few years ago, although Swanger revealed that “[w]hen we looked at what the gentleman was offering us, we would have had to charge a pretty substantial fee to students to be able to afford it, and we didn’t want to do that.”
This is not the only model that is available for Telemedicine. There is another model which can be accessed through any mobile device, and can easily connect you to a doctor, nurse, or nurse practitioner regardless of location, or time.
The system that is currently being considered here at FM is a pilot program, and Swanger stated that he would like to see it get to that point further down the road.
“I haven’t been given an official notice, but I think that the department of Public Health is going to get the grant which means they’re going to put it out here,” said Swanger.