The Henry Ford Health System has opened a medical center in Saginaw.
The newly opened center, located at 5375 Hampton Place, will give local patients access to Henry Ford specialists using telemedicine services.
Patient consultations are done in private in one of five exam rooms that have advanced telemedicine equipment for video visits. The telemedicine technology has a built-in, high-definition camera and an otoscope and stethoscope.
Telemedicine consults are the only service offered at this site. Blood work and imaging tests would be done through the patient’s local provider.
“Video visits have improved the convenience of medical care,” said Dr. Nirmal Kaur, medical director of specialty centers and director of Henry Ford’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Center. “But many patients struggle with the logistics of these visits and would really benefit from a telemedicine clinic. Our medical center allows for patients to have access to our tertiary-level specialists who provide advanced clinical services that are not available locally.”
If it's decided a patient needs to undergo a surgery or procedure after the visit, Henry Ford will coordinate an appointment at its hospital in Detroit or West Bloomfield. Henry Ford’s hospital in Detroit also offers housing accommodations for patients.
The medical center is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s staffed by a nurse practitioner and two medical assistants.
"Patients will take three trips down to Detroit. One for the initial consultation, the second for that procedure or surgery, and the third for that follow up exam," Kaur said.
With that three trips to Detroit are cut down to -maybe- one, and specialized care is much closer to home for patients in and around Saginaw, but this medical center is different from most.
It is staffed by only a nurse practitioner and two medical assistants, everything else conducted virtually with doctors more than an hour down the road.
"Patients can have their heart sounds and lung sounds as well as their ears and nasal cavity examined with this technology. The sounds are actually transmitted over wifi into the tytocare system so that the doctor in metro Detroit can hear that information," Kaur said.
It not only slashes drive time but makes tech issues with traditional telemedicine appointments at home, a thing of the past.
"Sometimes patients have difficulty connecting, have difficulty with installing the application that's required, and those barriers are often overcome by allowing patients to come in to a visit," Kaur said.
Dr. Kaur acknowledges some patients may still prefer to see their doctor face to face, rather than through a screen.
"There will be some who will say 'oh, I'll drive 100 miles to see my doctor instead,' so I think it's important that we give people every option," Kaur said.