A few years ago, a family in an upstate New York town got the terrifying news that their 7-year-old had cancer. The nearest pediatric oncologist and other key specialists were 90 minutes away. The child's parents had jobs where a missed day meant the risk of being fired. And normally, this child's diagnosis would mean many missed work days and trips to the University hospital, only to be referred to a different specialist, on a different day, with another missed work day.
Intuitively we know that for this 7-year-old, her routine, her home, and her dog are all cornerstones of her health and happiness. And new research may back up our sense that for a sick child, trips to faraway hospitals, stays away from home, and countless referrals can distinctly worsen their chance at healing. Although we haven't come across studies on the impact of treatment-related travel, a recent study on the negative impacts of commutes point to significant risks: as commutes increase, cardiovascular fitness drops, and blood pressure, body weight, and metabolic risks rise. The study, and a recent NY Times article, also revealed that driving more than 10 miles away to work increases risk of everything from high cholesterol to depression.
Similarly, Dr. Esther Sternberg's research on immunology and physical spaces suggests that our access to a favorite room at home, the company of local loved ones, and familiar routine all have hugely significant impacts on health.
These geographical hurtles don't just affect patients -- healthcare provider burnout and health are also on the line. The logistics of navigating multiple hospitals and services often means long commutes between hospitals and to the hospital. And if recent studies hold true -- at severe risk to your health.
For the 7-year-old and her providers, telemedicine -- in this case, iClickCare -- changed everything. Logistics, specialist coordination, consults, and even some visits were able to be completed without the family leaving their home. The child had an excellent outcome, largely due to her excellent care, but also (I can't help thinking) because her family was able to maintain the habits, jobs, routines, and home, that kept them healthy.
Curious how telemedicine can keep providers sane and patients healthy?