St. Johns to connect stroke patients with specialists via video

Jan 3, 2012

Stroke patients in Jackson will soon be able to consult with out-of-state specialists via video technology.

Gary Trauner, Chief Operating Officer at St. John’s Medical Center, says specialists used to make occasional trips from Idaho and Utah, but now remote doctors will constantly be available to meet with patients over video.

Trauner says the new technology will help St. John’s diagnose patients and determine whether to transfer them to other facilities. He says it’s almost as good as having the specialist in the room with the patient.

“They can both see each other,” Trauner said. “They’re both talking to each other. There’s a stethoscope attached to the robot so the remote physician can actually listen to the heart beat of the patient.”

Trauner says that’s a big advantage, because local physicians don’t have the expertise necessary to deal with complex neurological problems.

We’re still a relatively small, rural hospital, even though we’ve got a pretty high-end demographic here in Jackson,” he said. “And … there are people that demand certain services here … but we don’t really have the volume to have those services here fulltime.”

Trauner says the hospital plans to introduce the technology in February.

Several hospitals in Wyoming already use similar technology, but the Wyoming Hospital Association says this would be the state’s first use of telemedicine specifically for stroke patients.