Telemedicine links patients, doctors

STEUBENVILLE – Officials with Trinity Health System announced Tuesday the availability of telemedicine services through UPMC and Magee Women’s Hospital.

Using a secure video conference format similar to chatting on Skype or Facetime, patients are able to speak face-to-face with physicians in Pittsburgh. When specialists are not physically available at Trinity, the Teleconsult Center connects patients to doctors at other UPMC facilities.

“The biggest advantage is that patients are receiving a high level of care without having to spend money and time on a trip to Pittsburgh,” said Keith Murdock, director of community relations and development at Trinity. “It’s the future of specialty medicine, and we’re very happy to roll it out here.”

According to Murdock, the cost of the technology is minimal and limited to cameras and monitor equipment.

The services began with maternal-fetal medicine and will expand to other specialties in upcoming months.

“Complicated pregnancies are quite common,” said Dr. Hi Simhan of Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. “This allows up to bring our services to a much wider range of patients.”

According to Simhan, surveys have uniformly reflected positive feedback from patients using the Telemedicine system. He has been using it to communicate with clients for more than a year now.

“From both the provider and the patient perspective, it’s terrific,” he said. “Patients get remote access to the information they need, and driving is minimized on both ends.”

Physicians enjoy it because rather than reading reports or talking to the phone, they can actually see a patient’s condition and speak to her or him directly.

Patients with high-risk pregnancy, seizure disorders, clotting disorders, thyroid disease, chronic hypertension, gestational diabetes and preconception or pregnancy counseling due to poor obstetrical history will soon have access to the expertise of specialists without having to travel farther than their local hospital thanks to telemedicine.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at