Telemedicine for heart patients in Lafayette

Medical Breakthroughs

LAFAYETTE (KLFY) – The future of medicine is here. Seeing the doctor through a robot is now the reality for one local healthcare system.

With the growing demand of greater access to care, Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) is taking virtual care to the next level.

“We don’t have a physical presence in some of these rural hospitals. We have a robot, almost like a FaceTime, except it has other technology where we can actually do a physical exam through the internet,” said Dr. Siby Ayalloore, medical director at CIS.

The CIS Virtual Care Center provides 24/7 care. The center’s hub is in Lafayette, but they provide services all over Acadiana.

Here’s how it works: physicians can call in, speak with a cardiologist about a concerning case and the cardiologist can speak directly to the patient through the robot, while reviewing their lab results and health history in real time. The cardiologist can also perform a psychical exam through the robot itself.

“There are the things that you can’t communicate over the phone that you can see and hear by the telemedicine. You can listen to their heartbeat, you can listen to their heart sounds, you can see a nurse actually pressed down to see if they have swelling in the legs,” Dr. Ayalloore said.

According to Dr. Ayalloore, these robots are especially helpful for rural hospitals who may not have access to a cardiologist or specialty physician on site.

According to Emergency Department Medical Director at St. Martin Hospital Dr. Blaine Lavergne, the telemedicine robot is helpful for patients who show signs of heart disease, but aren’t necessarily having a heart attack. Dr. Lavergne said the robot helps cut down travel time between hospitals because a patient can instead be treated in their hometown hospital, rather than immediately going to a larger hospital.

“We have patients that come into the emergency room that aren’t black and white, like not obviously a heart attack that we ship off right away. We have a large percentage that fall in that gray area so it allows us immediate access to a specialty that you otherwise wouldn’t have a smaller hospitals,” Dr. Lavergne said.

Currently, CIS has telemedicine services in seven hospitals and they receive about 20 to 50 calls a week. Dr. Ayalloore said they hope to further expand the program as word gets out.

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