Rural Telemedicine in Georgia

Health care has become more accessible to people in rural parts of Georgia. The newest advancement is changing the way health care is delivered.

As the CEO of Bainbridge Memorial, Jim Peak is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of care for his patients, but the tables have turned.

Now, Peak is the patient for the launching of Georgia's telemedicine program.

Jim says, "We needed a patient to demonstrate with Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. I've had heart problems in the past and got to be the guinea pig today."

Peak consulted with a cardiovascular specialist in Atlanta about his health problems. The telemedicine program gives citizens in rural areas instant access to specialty doctors across the state.

Beth Hollis, a nurse practitioner, says, "A lot of people don't have access to specialists and access to care and of course traveling, taking off work."

The patient and his doctor or nurse practitioner connects with the specialist via the Internet. The specialist evaluates the case and offers recommendations.

Jim says, "It has tremendous potential; it just depends on how physicians use it on both sides."

Peak made some use of the system.

Jim adds, "I'm probably going to have to stop smoking, start eating better."

Telemedicine helped Peak put his health into perspective. He says he hopes to pass the same benefits along to patients.

Bainbridge Memorial Hospital is one of the first rural hospitals to offer telemedicine. Right now there are two speciality referral sites with telemedicine. They are Piedmont and Emory Hospitals.