Book an Appointment with Brown Emergency Medicine’s New TeleCARE Program

This telemedicine program allows people of all ages to virtually visit a skilled physician without having to leave the comfort of their own home.

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The Brown Emergency Medicine TeleCARE System is a telemedicine program that allows people of all ages to virtually visit a skilled physician without having to leave their home. Rhode Island physicians Gary Bubly, MD, MHCI, FACEP and Susan Duffy, MD, MPH are two of the many physicians who work for TeleCARE, and can be seen for either an adult or pediatric appointment.

Whether you have a mild rash or moderate abdominal pain, booking an appointment with the TeleCARE system is easy, especially if a patient needs to be referred into the hospital. “We know the healthcare landscape as well as anybody in the state, so we can tell you exactly where to go and can try to facilitate that care if we do have to send you to an emergency department or to a specialist to try to make that care transition as smooth as possible,” says Bubly.

TeleCARE officially launched in July of last year, but according to Bubly, Brown Emergency Medicine had considered creating the telemedicine system for a couple of years. After much discussion and projects alike, it was decided that the idea would become a reality. “We were pressed to do it pretty rapidly. We had a big team, we drew upon the talent and expertise of many people in our foundation, we were lucky that we had so many people with so much skill and so many years to build up the practice very quickly… it took three months before we saw the first patient,” Bubly says.

The use of telemedicine has increased significantly, especially as the pandemic heightened. “COVID-19 really made [it] mainstream and out of necessity, many people were forced to use a technology that was already there. The medicine is the same, you practice the same kind of medicine, but it’s just using the virtual setting,” says Duffy. Although TeleCARE has been providing convenient service for patients for several months, it still feels new to the physicians, who are adapting to, and learning from the system every day. “It’s a continuous process of improvement where we’ve been learning things because we are in somewhat uncharted territory for emergency medicine. A lot of it is the IT and computer stuff,” says Bubly. “It sounds really simple and you might think you could just use FaceTime or Zoom, but things are more complicated because of all the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. We’ve built something that’s very robust that meets all the federal requirements for security and that has strong quality features.”

TeleCARE can be utilized for countless reasons, including psychiatry. “Certain specialties and practices have seen an increase in volume when they switch to telemedicine, so psychiatry in particular is made for it,” says Bubly. “It’s perfect because patients can avoid the stigma of walking into a psychiatrist’s office… they’re less dependent on the physical exam in psychiatry, so it’s great for that.”

According to Bubly, the history is pretty much the same. If a patient was telling the doctor about an abdominal pain they have been having for three weeks, they’ve got the same history that they had obtained in the department. “We can see how you’re breathing, we can look at your neck veins, we can have you examine your belly. If there’s somebody in the room with you, we can guide them through examining your belly to see if there’s tenderness. The exam is the part that takes more creativity, but so much of medicine we get from the history anyway, so that’s really the key thing,” he says.

Accessing the TeleCARE system is very simple, and can be done anywhere there’s Internet. Visit the website, and locate the tab for both pediatric and adult appointments. Select the tab that applies to you or whoever needs needs to see a doctor, and you will be taken to a page that provides the steps on scheduling the appointment and what to expect during your virtual visit. Once you select a time slot, fill out your payment information. A confirmation email and text message will be sent to you, informing you on which physician you will be seeing the day of your appointment.

For life-threatening emergencies, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. The TeleCARE system is available from noon to midnight every day of the week at a time suitable for your schedule, including holidays. Visit brownemtelecare.org to book an appointment or to learn more.