Telehealth grad finds success
Photo by Evan Krape August 08, 2019
UD alum Gemma Lowery helped in workplace by Professional and Continuing Studies program
University of Delaware alumna Gemma Lowery was recently named the new telehealth program manager at Christiana Care Health System, where she is responsible for leading and expanding telemedicine initiatives. Also a graduate of UD’s Advanced Telehealth Coordinator Certificate program, she is a big believer in the potential of telehealth to address a wide variety of healthcare access issues.
In her previous role as Christiana Care eICU operations coordinator, Lowery was already knowledgeable about telehealth’s capabilities.
“Christiana Care’s longest-running telehealth effort is the Virtual ICU, where overnight physician coverage has been provided virtually for the past 13 years,” she said. “During that time, we have seen a strong partnership between our clinicians at the bedside along with remote clinicians in Chicago. Both teams work together to ensure our patients’ recovery whenever possible. This has led to improved outcomes in the ICU.”
At Christiana Care, the Virtual ICU provides constant monitoring of patients’ vital signs and activities, providing a critical layer of support for on-site care providers. An off-site team of nurses and doctors check in with patients via videoconferencing, answer patient questions, and alert the Christiana Care bedside staff if warranted.
In the larger healthcare industry, telehealth encompasses a wide range of tools and applications that help patients and providers connect. Examples include patient video conferencing visits with medical practitioners, virtual mental health counseling, virtual access to specialists in rural and high-need areas, remote patient monitoring programs and personalized follow-up programs for patient treatment regimens.
Lowery graduated from UD in 1991 in English/technical writing with a minor in biology. Her career has spanned a variety of fields, including banking, inside sales and process improvement. After joining Christiana Care in 2005, she found her passion in the virtual ICU, becoming eCare operations coordinator in 2013.
Lowery enrolled in the original cohort of the University of Delaware’s telehealth certificate program in 2016, offered by UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies. At that time, she was interested in learning more about non-ICU applications for telehealth.
“The field was and still is growing so quickly, and staying updated with federal, state and local laws is one of the keys to success,” she said. “The course helped provide a huge list of resources to assist with that process.”
Because of her background in the virtual ICU, she collaborated with UD’s original telehealth certificate program faculty to help facilitate the course’s module about telehealth applications relating to virtual intensive care units.
Lowery said that innovations powered by telehealth and telemedicine technologies will continue to gain traction in the industry.
“At Christiana Care, our eCare multidisciplinary team is an optimal blend of new technology and outstanding clinical staff support,” Lowery said. “This results in excellent patient outcomes that include shorter stays, less time on ventilators and the best care available for their chronic or crisis situations. I believe that speaks volumes to the importance we place on providing innovative care to our patients.”
“A newer program that’s been well-received is the Employee Virtual Primary Care Practice, which provides Christiana Care employees with virtual access to primary care providers,” said Lowery. “Some Christiana Care specialists have also adopted virtual visits for patient follow-up visits, providing flexibility for patients to avoid taking time off work or arranging transportation or child care.
“I am a huge advocate for health equality and health equity. I believe telehealth is a way to help bridge gaps in healthcare access. Understanding all the ins and outs of the telehealth environment has helped me make smart decisions as I partner with clinical, IT and other teams involved in telehealth at Christiana Care.”
UD’s Advanced Telehealth
Now in its fourth year, UD’s Advanced Telehealth Coordinator Certificate program addresses the continued need for training around telehealth. The program highlights the benefits and opportunities of telehealth implementations and provides the foundations of telehealth for healthcare providers and IT professionals interested in utilizing telehealth for the delivery of healthcare, including technology evaluation, business and operational considerations, regulations, ethics, privacy and more.
The next program is offered as a 15-week online course, Sept. 9 through Dec. 16, 2019. UD students and UD alumni are eligible for a discount when enrolling in this program. Other discounts include a military/veterans discount and a group discount when two or more individuals from one business or organization register for the program.
A virtual information session will be held on Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. for those interested in learning more about the program. To RSVP or for more information about UD’s online telehealth certificate program, visit pcs.udel.edu/telehealth, email email@example.com, or call 302-831-7600.