Thanks to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, potential recipients of kidney transplants in Tennessee can now choose whether to travel to Vanderbilt for an in-person visit or to remain local with a telemedicine consultation. The Vanderbilt Transplant Center, based in Nashville, recently set up its first telenephrology clinic in Jackson—roughly two hours away—through which specialists can evaluate proposed candidates for kidney transplants and conduct monthly exams for patients who have already received kidney transplants.
At Vanderbilt, as well as other similar programs such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, officials are finding that patients value the reduced travel time and cost of using telemedicine to see specialists in real-time; the hope is that with the increased convenience, patients will be more compliant in keeping follow-up appointments.
At Vanderbilt, the telemedicine feature is optional. If it is selected, the patient’s documents and information will be transferred from the referring physician to the specialist through the intake process. Thus, the specialist receives a thorough history and can accurately determine whether further testing is needed for evaluation.
Among experts, the excitement is palpable as they anticipate expanding these telemedicine clinics beyond telenephrology to include other populations, particularly those with chronic conditions. As noted by one kidney transplant coordinator at Vanderbilt, “The possibilities are endless.”