If you’re searching for nationally recognized cardiovascular care, look no further than Sleepy Eye. Sleepy Eye Medical Center is proud to now offer TeleHeart services to patients as of March 15.
TeleHeart is a real-time, remote, face-to-face video health care interaction that allows patients to meet with a cardiology provider from Minneapolis Heart Institute without having to travel to the Twin Cities.
Ron Havemeier of Sleepy Eye was one of the first patients to utilize the service. Initially, he was a bit skeptical of the new technology.
“I was a little leery (of TeleHeart) at first, but it actually worked out pretty good. It really saves time for people. Our new technology is coming around,” said Havemeier.
TeleHeart asserts a multitude of advantages over traditional specialty care, including shorter wait times, convenience, and cost similar to a traditional office visit. In most cases, the service is covered by medical insurance as well.
How it Works
Prior to a patient’s visit, he or she may need to have a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram) and EKG (electrocardiogram). In some cases, patients are asked for a blood draw at lab or some other diagnostic tests.
During the TeleHeart appointment, an SEMC nurse begins the face-to-face patient visit by reviewing the patient’s needs. Then they connect with a cardiologist via TeleHeart video equipment and stay with the patient throughout the visit. From there, the patient and cardiologist are able to ask questions, discuss heart health concerns, and even complete a physical exam with the help of the SEMC nurse.
“They used a special stethoscope connected to the computer that allowed the doctor to listen to my heart right from the screen,” said Havemeier.
Such technology lets the cardiologist and SEMC nurse hear the patient’s heart, lungs and stomach sounds.
“It’s really no different than having him (the cardiologist) drive down here,” added Havemeier.
During the visit, the cardiologist also has access to a patient’s medical records, lab results, radiology reports and medical history.
Following the visit, the cardiologist works with the patient to determine proper treatment or a follow-up plan and then passes this along to members of the patient’s health care team.
Overall, Havemeier said he had a positive first-time experience. When asked what he’d tell others considering TeleHeart, he responded, “It doesn’t hurt. Go for it. Less driving is definitely nice.”
Havemeier also noted the positive experience he’s had with members of his SEMC care team.
“Everyone has been prompt, friendly, kind and helpful. There’s really good staff and a lot of wonderful doctors here,” said Havemeier. “They’ve saved my life more than one time already.”
Setting Up a TeleHeart Appointment
In order for a patient to receive TeleHeart services, he or she must obtain a referral from their primary care provider. From there, an appointment is scheduled with a TeleHeart cardiologist.
Cardiology services continue to be offered on-site, as they have been, through the Minneapolis Heart Institute. TeleHeart is an extension of these services, offering patients the opportunity to seek care from a multitude of heart specialists from Minneapolis Heart Institute at a convenient time and location.
“Our mission at Sleepy Eye Medical Center is to improve lives by providing quality healthcare. TeleHeart allows us to provide access to cardiology services both efficiently and timely to meet the patient’s needs,” said Wende Davis, RN, SEMC Cardiac Rehab Nurse. “We are excited to have this available to our community of patients.”