Anyone in their early sixties or older may likely remember a time when it was not uncommon for the local doctor to show up with black bag in hand at one’s home. Thanks to digital technology and globally linked networks, a doctor can now show up at a patient’s bedside without traveling one physical mile.
With the primary goal of reducing or eliminating unnecessary trips to the emergency room and putting an end to the revolving door between nursing homes and hospitals, the newly established Athene Telehealth, based in Raritan Borough, is on course to revolutionize medical care.
Freida Srisuk, founder and Chief Executive Officer, is energized by the impact she believes her company will have on medical care going forward. “By employing telemedicine tools and techniques, patients experience less disruption and by eliminating unnecessary trips to the hospital, the result is a substantial cost savings to the healthcare system since every day in a hospital costs far more than a day in a nursing home or rehabilitation center,” she said.
Athene Telehealth’s ‘telemedicine cart’ makes it possible for a patient experiencing shortness of breath, pain, or a worsening wound, to be examined and diagnosed from a distance by a physician who is able to hear the patient’s heartbeat and lungs, and review all vital signs from anywhere in the world. “The high-resolution camera makes it possible for the doctor to zoom in to see, for instance, a wound or a rash, close up with great clarity,” said Dr. Bobby Malik, chief medical officer.
Joining Srisuk and Malik in managing Athene is cardiologist Dr. Mark J. Lebenthal, M.D., director of program development; Mel Castro, executive vice president; and Rob Rodriguez, director of marketing.
Currently, Athene Telehealth services are available to nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities throughout New Jersey. To date, 11 care facilities have signed up for services and 19 contracts are pending.
According to Lebenthal, telemedicine and e-diagnostic tools are highly effective and will significantly reduce costs. “Through the tools we have now, I can visually examine the patient, listen to the heart and lungs, and read an EKG. That makes it possible for me to assess whether a patient is having a heart attack,” he said.
He cited a community health program made available in South Carolina that offered assistance to patients with Congestive Heart Failure, which contributes to an ever-increasing health care price tag, with $14 billion attributed to hospital readmission. Lebenthal said he believes 50 to 60 percent of CHF patients could be treated successfully through telemedicine.