Telemedicine provides high-tech care

HOUSTON – When an emergency situation strikes, time is of the essence and can mean the difference between life and death. Now thanks to advances in technology, access to a specialist can be as simple as logging onto a computer.

Neurologist Dr. Teddy Wu is ready any day, any time.

Dr. Wu told Local 2, "We're able to turn on the computer and really see the patient in minutes."

Wu is Director of Telemedicine for Memorial Hermann Hospital TMC's Mischer Neuroscience Institute in partnership with UTHealth.

When a patient arrives at an outlying emergency room, high resolution two-way conferencing technology provides a fast, accurate consultation.

Dr. Wu explained, "Neurologists are few and far between and in small communities. It's tough for them to attract a full-time neurologist and we're able to fill that gap for them. This is definitely not a replacement for a human being. Nothing replaces the human, but the next best thing is telemedicine."

When Trudy Wilson's husband, Johnny, suffered a severe stroke. She acted fast.

She told Local 2, "He was in bad shape he was dying. I didn't wait. I just called 911."

He was taken to a hospital in Orange and quickly linked up to Houston via telemedicine.

The doctor on the other end determined he needed to be choppered to the Texas Medical Center.

Trudy said, "Within 18 minutes, he was gone and he was in Houston on the operating table. It saved his life. It had to have."

Doctors say thanks to telemedicine, stroke patients can receive the right medicine at the right time, which can mean all the difference when it comes to their rehabilitation and recovery.

Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, Co-Medical Director of TIRR Outpatient Clinic explained, "Time is going to be on their side that if they get the medicines and get some of their function back sooner, putting that with rehab, they're going be able to be more independent."

Johnny is already making progress at TIRR. Trudy is counting their blessings.

She said, "I think they fixed him. I think he's going to be OK."

Due to its efficiency, telemedicine is already expanding to other medical specialties such as dermatology, psychiatry, and critical care.