U-M gastroenterologist Grace L. Su believes providing the option of videoconferencing for liver disease patients who are unable to make multiple office visits to specialists improves the provided care. Su and her team determined in a study that patients of primary care physicians who used video consultations with liver disease specialists had a 54 percent higher survival rate than patients whose primary doctors didn’t take advantage of the technology.
Videoconferencing also provides many learning opportunities for the primary care physicians, who ultimately become mini-specialists in their specific patient’s disease and care needs. Ultimately, this is a service that is used by the primary care physician because they are the ones in direct contact with the specialists, not the patients themselves. Further steps in this development involve determining if patients not enrolled in the program benefit from the service as well. The hope is that providing videoconferencing will also improve other kinds of care.