Stacy was worried when she received a diagnosis of cirrhosis in January of 2020. Not only was she facing a chronic and potentially fatal disease; the world was beginning to face a medical crisis. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy to see a specialist during the COVID-19 pandemic — at least until she learned about Emory Connected Care, Emory Healthcare’s telehealth service.
“I knew I needed to get to doctors who would be able to help me,” says Stacy. “But every appointment I made kept getting pushed back due to COVID. Then, one day I got a phone call from Emory letting me know that Ravi Vora, MD, transplant hepatologist at Emory Healthcare, was available to meet with me by telehealth appointment.”
Not quite sure what a telehealth visit would entail, or what she’d hear from Dr. Vora, Stacy took the appointment, and quite literally, it changed her life.
How Telehealth Works
Emory Connected Care telehealth allows you to see Emory Healthcare providers from virtually any place. Rather than making a trip to a medical office, you connect with your provider using a highly secure version of Zoom, a videoconferencing tool, via your smartphone, tablet or computer. You receive complete instructions on using the tool before your scheduled appointment. Then, once your Zoom visit is up and running, you and your provider see each other almost as if you were in the same room together.
A telehealth visit is much like an in-person visit. You may first see your provider’s assistant or nurse, then you will speak with your provider directly.
Telehealth services don’t work well for every medical appointment, but they can be used for both primary care and many specialty areas of medicine, including neurology, reproductive health, oncology, transplant and more. While Emory Connected Care has been invaluable during COVID-19, it’s always available to patients, pandemic or not.
Emory Connected Care Makes Health Care Easy
Sometimes, patients are concerned about trying something unfamiliar to them. And that was certainly the case for Stacy.
“I’m not very good with technology,” she says. “I had no idea, really, what Zoom was or how it could help me find care for my condition. I was amazed to learn I could have an appointment over a video call. Being able to see Dr. Vora, as opposed to simply talking to him on the phone, helped put me at ease. And the entire process was easy. There really was nothing to it.”
The very best thing about her Emory Connected Care telehealth visit, however, was that it got things moving quickly — far more quickly than they might have moved, had she been forced to wait for an in-person appointment.
“I had my virtual meeting in the morning with Dr. Vora,” says Stacy. “He said that he wanted to look into a few things and that he’d give me a call back. Little did I know his call would come just a few hours later, asking me what time I could be at the hospital. I was admitted that afternoon.”
Through their initial video call and a review of her records, Dr. Vora knew Stacy was a very sick woman, even without seeing her in person.
“She wasn’t doing well,” he recalls. “She was in multiorgan failure; her kidneys were starting to show significant injury and her liver was severely injured, as well.”
The goal of her hospitalization was to manage her acute health issues, but also to quickly evaluate her for a liver transplant, something that happened in near-record time. Less than three weeks after her initial telehealth visit, Stacy had a new liver.
To go from a Zoom call to getting a new organ in just 17 days was remarkable and shows what’s possible at Emory.
“Telemedicine works,” says Dr. Vora. “Transplantation works. And so does our system at Emory.”
Helping People Heal
Patients from all over Georgia and surrounding states rely on Emory for transplant care. With Emory Connected Care, it’s easier and more convenient than ever before to receive needed services. “In many cases, telehealth allows patients to start the transplant process early and avoid complications,” says Dr. Vora.
Today, Stacy is feeling good and doing well. And she couldn’t be more grateful.
“My experience using telehealth at Emory was everything,” she says. “Things just fell into place and went very smoothly. Everyone was very helpful. It was wonderful. Thank you doesn’t even seem like a good enough phrase.”
About Emory Healthcare
At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With virtual care options available and access to more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations – including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics – we’re delivering specialized care across the region to help you get and stay healthy.