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ELKO – Imagine coming down with pneumonia and being treated by a doctor who is more than a hundred miles away but can hear your heartbeat, see down your throat, and inspect an unusual skin rash noticed during the examination.

Thanks to advancements in telemedicine, the scenario isn’t science-fiction but the introduction of the CuraviCart now used at Highland Manor.

Presented by Dr. Steven Phillips of Geriatric Specialty Care of Reno, the CuraviCart is a mobile diagnosis station that can be rolled into a patient’s room for examination by an off-site doctor or physician’s assistant if the patient shows signs of discomfort or symptoms of a treatable condition.

The console operates CuraviCare, a proprietary video platform software, using a stationary camera, screen, microphone, portable camera and otoscope camera for viewing ears, nose and throat. A Bluetooth-connected stethoscope allows the doctor to hear heart, lung and abdominal sounds.

If needed, an electrocardiogram attached to the unit will send heart rates and rhythms to the doctor for further analysis.

Newer patients can have their medical history e-faxed to the doctor by a portable fax machine attached to the console, Phillips said, adding that the system is HIPPA compliant.

The examination is in real-time and the video is not archived, Phillips said.

Within a nursing facility, “conditions are identified by a CNA who escalates it to the RN or LPN,” Phillips said. “It operates at the top of your scope of procedure.”

The accuracy level is the same through telemedicine as it is with a live doctor and diagnosis can be made quicker, Phillips said.

Nurses in the skilled nursing and memory care units received training this week on the system.

Called a Situation Background Assessment Recommendation tool, the technology was initially developed for nuclear submarines 20 years ago, Phillips explained.

“The Department of Defense spent $5 million for the subs to have standardized reports, but some people in home health said it would work in health care,” Phillips said.

Mostly, the console will be used on off-hours, evenings and weekends, replacing telephone calls to doctors and practitioners.

Four doctors, including Highland staff Dr. Felix De Guzman and Physician’s Assistant Katie Steele will be on the other side of the screen.

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Starting soon, CuraviCart will be used in the skilled nursing and memory care facilities at Highland Manor, with plans to add another one for Highland’s assisted living residents, said Mickey Hale, director of marketing and sales at Highland Village.

Another benefit in using telemedicine will mean patients can be treated in their rooms, possibly avoiding an ambulance transport and saving the patient money, said Administrator Drew Banford.

“Medicare allowable is $986,” Banford said.

“About 80 percent of transfers are for pneumonia, congestive heart failure, COPD/asthma, skin infections, dehydration or urinary tract infections,” Phillips said.

One of the main benefits is that the doctor can still go to the patient.

“It’s an office without walls,” Phillips said.

The article corrected the name of Dr. Steven Phillips’ organization.

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Courts, K-12 schools & Spring Creek reporter

Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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