Grandma Nancy Needs Telemedicine!

You’re in big trouble Grandma Nancy. In the famous “I Love Lucy” words of Ricky Ricardo, “you got some ‘splaining’ to do!” Just this week, my Significant Other’s grandmother Nancy was discovered to have a broken femur near her hip joint, but that is not why she is in big trouble. Grandma Nancy is in big trouble because she didn’t tell anyone that she fell for a week at which point the pain was so severe she had to say something. Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing you are. That’s a tough old bird!

Grandma Nancy and some members of her family live in Grangeville, ID. Right, there’s a reason you haven’t heard of it. It’s essentially smack in the middle of Idaho with a population of about three thousand; where the U.S. Forrest Service is the largest employer and its claim to fame is Border Days, the rousing Fourth of July celebration with an egg toss that covers the whole town. Its stoplights number all the way up to one.

So here we have Grandma Nancy with her soon to be discovered broken femur in Grangeville, ID, a town that owns an x-ray machine, but no Radiologist to read the film. Enter telemedicine, the use of technology that enables patient care to remote areas such as rural Idaho. Oh wait, telemedicine is from the future in Idaho. Grandma Nancy and her x-ray films actually had to ride two hours away to the next town to discover her broken femur.

Well OK, Lewiston, ID isn’t that far away. People go there all the time to find bulk deals at Costco. Discovered in Lewiston were broken blood vessels near the bone break and guess what?! No vascular specialists around these parts. Off Grandma Nancy went to Spokane, WA where she could have access to all the specialized care she needed. Grandma Nancy is doing fine by the way and thank you readership for keeping her in your good thoughts.

Grandma Nancy’s journey into medical care really just has me thinking about what telemedicine could bring to Idaho’s rural areas. Perhaps if Grangeville had access to doctors remotely, she could have skipped the hospital stay in Lewiston and gone straight to Spokane where she really needs to be. Perhaps these hospitals could have shared her electronic medical record, lab results, and x-ray films to save her and them time and money. Perhaps Grandma Nancy would have been more comfortable throughout the process if it had been expedited. Certainly telling her family before a week would have helped her too so please know, patient engagement in her own health is not lost on me. She’s in big trouble! So keep those of us out here in Idaho in mind you Healthcare IT Superheroes!

Anyway, here ends my story of Grandma Nancy and Grangeville, ID and here begins my hope for the improvement of patient care in the rural communities of Idaho through telemedicine.

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Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.

6 Comments

  • Great post Cassie! I have been involved in healthcare for over 20 years and this is a problem that can be solved now.
    I am hoping that Steve Jobs left an army of innovators behind at Apple to develop a specialized iPhone and App that can give Grandma Nancy a health check once per week and securely mail the results to a service that will ensure that Grandma is ok.
    I know that I would pay for such a iPhone, App and service for my mother just for the piece of mind!

  • Thank you Joe! Grandma Nancy is the sweetest, but come on (!), she’s gotta tell us when she’s hurt! 🙂

    You are correct that we could relieve these healthcare issues now and I wish it would happen. Access to healthcare in rural areas is a major issue across the country and in Idaho, and one that could be so simple to solve.

    I saw a very interesting presentation at Epic’s UGM regarding patient engagement in their chronic disease management given by UPMC. They used their EMR to send reminders to their patients for check ups, etc. I am eager to hear their results at next year’s meeting.

    Joe, you take care of your mama and keep working to help us all in the rural areas! 🙂

  • There’s something to be said for the stoicism of the older generation – maybe Grandma Nancy knew the kind of run-around she was in for there in Grangeville!

    We’ve definitely got a long way to go before all patients have access to telemedicine, but I’m optimistic that the focus currently being placed on Healthcare IT will enable our children and grandchildren to say, “You had to do WHAT in the Dark Ages?”

    Great post, Cassie!

    G.

  • Thank you Gwen! I hope the future generations have it better than we do and I am sure Grandma Nancy does, as well.

    Oh, but by the way, Grandma Nancy is pretty hip with technology herself. She rocks a Facebook page!

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