Tele-MS program boosts access to care

UCHealth rolls out its first outpatient telehealth service

EXT 120215 Miravalle-Severenuk-Tele-MSFirst there was telestroke, which starting in July 2014 connected fellowship-trained neurologists based at UCHealth Metro Denver with emergency department physicians at UCHealth Colorado Springs.

Tele-MS, UCHealth’s second telehealth program, launched in December 2015. The Tele-MS program, a pilot that also involves a fellowship-trained neurologist, differs starkly from its predecessor – not only in terms of how it will help patients, but also in its potential to open the telehealth doors to other UCHealth services.

Telestroke is an emergency service – the idea being to speed stroke diagnosis and get clot-busting tPA into a patient’s bloodstream as quickly as possible. Tele-MS is an outpatient service involving a disease that creeps in for years. The goal isn’t instant access to subspecialist expertise. It’s access, period.

Augusto Miravalle, MD, a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis and related diseases, is at the center of UCHealth’s new Tele-MS program. While the telehealth system enabling Tele-MS would work across oceans, the Tele-MS “robot” through which Miravalle will see patients will be a five-minute drive from UCHealth’s Anschutz Medical Campus – at North Aurora Family Health Services.

Miravalle drives over to see MS patients there during a half-day clinic once a month. He’ll keep that schedule, as he has for five years. But he will add a second half-day clinic via Tele-MS. That’s a big deal, said Tom Stewart, PA, an MCPN physician assistant who specializes in MS patients at the Aurora clinic.

“This will effectively double the access that patients have to his expertise,” Stewart said.  “Instead of waiting a month, we can get going much more quickly.”