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Tift Regional Telehealth continues to look for ways to expand

Officials with telehealth at Tift Regional continue to work to help connect rural Georgia with the care they need. /Tosin Fakile

Officials with telehealth at Tift Regional continue to work to help connect rural Georgia with the care they need.

"Really what it brings to our patients and our community is really simple. It takes a person in need and connects them to a person who can help. It's that simple. That is the magic of telemedicine," said Jeff Robbins, Director of Neuro Diagnostics Telehealth at Tift Regional Health Systems. "The miracle of telemedicine is erasing time and distance," he added.

Robbins said one of their missions at Tift Regional is, anyone within their community deserves the best quality healthcare that they can give.

"And because of these specialties in the world and these medical professionals are becoming so specialized. We can't always recruit that specialist here in Tifton or in South Georgia or rural area. So how do we get our members of our community to that specialist we can now connect them with the simplest of technologies," Robbins said.

And they continue to work on more ways to keep their patients connected.

"Every day we work on new service lines. We're connecting some of our physicians who are on call all day up in the ICU to their homes so they can answer that one last phone call after they've been up on the floor for 24 straight hours. So the services are never ending," Robbins said. "The technology is getting faster. It's getting smaller. It gives us the ability to get into a nursing home for wound care. It allows us to actually almost send a unit somewhere for one encounter. It allows us to go into people's homes that are missing appointments," he added.

Tift Regional's tele-health provides various services but experts say the two greatest needs are neurology and psychiatric care. Robbins said he the care he likes to brag the most about is their stroke program. Patients who visit and have potential stroke are immediately connected with physicians in Augusta.

"Studies show that in the next ten years 22 percent of all patient and physician encounters will be virtual," Robbins said. "So we at Tift Regional are just choosing to be on the cutting edge of that. This allows us to cross over so many different health care eco systems. That keeps our patients connected to the best specialists in our state," he added.

They connect to pediatric services in Macon, psychiatric services to their sister hospital in Adel. They connect behavioral health to Atlanta.

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