Medical center innovates for community health

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Allanna Jones
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Technology is an ever-changing realm that has contributed to the efficiency of day-to-day life.

At Keelser Medical Center, Major (Dr.) Oliver Wisco and Major (Dr.) Jennifer Alfar from the dermatology department have taken medical evaluations to a whole new level with the Hospital Without Walls Program.

A more official title for the program is, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes and more commonly called eConsult, it is a collaborative effort launched simultaneously as a tri-service effort across the Department of Defense as well as with our Federal healthcare partners, the VA and the Indian Health Service.

The eConsult allows easier access for primary care providers to have the ability to seek consultation from specialists via electronic media.

"The program was put in place because we wanted something mobile," said Wisco, dermatology clinic chief. "With the limited number of specialty doctors, this program will help primary care providers perform, by creating an education platform and eliminating the need to see a specialist depending on the severity of the case."

There are more patients being sent to dermatology than there are physicians available to assist them. Most bases don't even have a dermatology department, so patients are referred to off base dermatologists.

"A lot of the cases we see can be easily treated by the primary care providers but because it's not their specialty the patients get sent to us," said Wisco. "This is where the eConsult could be utilized. The program will free up specialty doctors to see severe cases and expand primary care providers' knowledge of symptoms and care options."

"The electronic media interface that will be used are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act secure so there are no issues with patient confidentiality," said Wisco.

Wisco said the program supports cost conscience culture by saving off base consult fees while saving money the program will also provide patients with the best dermatology care, availability of up-to-date specialty care and near real-time feedback to PCMs.

Though this program is still in the planning stage with no exact date for release, there is great promise in this cost and time saving endeavor said Wisco.