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UPMC Uses Telemedicine To Help Hospitals

The recent experience with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is showing that a new normal doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Like many health care providers, UPMC has increased the use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local doctors offices are using telemedicine to diagnose patients’ ailments over the phone or via video conferencing, and UPMC doctors are no different. Dr. Rachel Sackrowitz, Rachel Sackrowitz, UPMC ICU Service Center chief medical officer, said during a recent news conference that telemedicine use at UPMC increased from 250 a day in March to nearly 9,500 a day at the end of April.

When UPMC officials found they weren’t being beseiged by COVID-19 cases, they began finding other uses for telemedicine to help areas that are beseiged with coronavirus cases.

“UPMC doctors sitting in Pittsburgh could partner with teams in New York City to care for ICU patients,” Sackrowitz said. “We reached out to our colleagvues in New York City and offered our supports. New York Presbyterian was immediately receptive and we quickly implemented a telemedicine ICU outreach program. Our UPMC critical care physicians volunteered their unpaid free time 24-7 to help in whatever way was needed, whether it was troubleshooting a ventilator, adjusting a medication or even serving as a sounding board for various care options.”

The Outreach TeleICU Program has been deployed to a number of New York City hospitals, Sackrowitz said, and UPMC officials are open to deploying the program elsewhere if a need exists or to helping other health systems or hospitals to develop their own programs that can be used in communities across the country.

“I tell you about this because we believe this is yet another way our medical community came together during this pandemic to solve problems and support each other,” she said. “The TeleICU model we established with New York Presbyterian can be replicated nationwide.”

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