Heart care with telehealth ensures no wasted visits to the doctor in-person

Telehealth is helping more patients get specialized heart care from home.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 6:12 AM CST
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Iowa City, Iowa (KCRG) - People no longer need to take extra time off work or worry about travel to see a heart specialist.

Telehealth services have significantly expanded during the pandemic. That’s the case in Iowa as well and the University of Iowa Healthcare system is now treating cardiac patients using virtual meeting technology.

Dr. Denice Hodgson-Zingman is an electrophysiologist and said telehealth is taking off because people are getting more comfortable using virtual meeting technology. Electrophysiology is a sub-specialty of cardiology that focuses on heart rhythm issues.

She said electrophysiology works well with telehealth because it’s a specialty. This means by the time a patient is referred to a specialist, they’ve most likely had a full physical exam and testing.

Hodgson-Zingman said some patients with a cardiac device - like a pacemaker - can be monitored virtually.

She says telehealth benefits patients looking for quick advice with no physical exam needed.

”You know Iowa is a rural state, and sometimes people don’t know if they want to drive two or three or four hours across the state to come see us, but if we can have a discussion first via telehealth and talk about their situation and say, ‘Yeah I think you really would benefit from a pacemaker, this is what it looks like,’” said Dr. Denice Hodgson-Zingman.

Patients from across the state or patients with mobility issues can more easily meet with a specialist. She said sometimes patients would be unable to find a ride or struggle to find time off work to get to Iowa City.

”They could be anywhere. They could be on vacation in the Bahamas and we could connect with them by telehealth and that would be fine. So yeah it really does offer us a lot of options for seeing patients without them having to travel here,” said Hodgson-Zingman.

Through telehealth, they can show patients models of the heart, a pacemaker and how it works, plus explain their procedure.

Hodgson-Zingman said some patients would drive hours to see her and didn’t need a procedure anyways. She said seeing your heart doctor by telehealth beforehand ensures that doesn’t happen.

She said the hospital will help patients nervous about trying telehealth or who don’t know how to get it set up and patients just need a smartphone or laptop.

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