- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Some people in Bennington who would normally drive two hours for medical care can now see a specialist from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center without leaving the southwestern Vermont town.

Several rheumatology patients at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington are using real-time video for their appointments with Dr. Daniel Albert in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

When patients are shown to an examination room, a staff member uses a medical cart equipped with a camera and a video screen to connect to Albert.

Albert examines patients with the assistance of a nurse, who uses high-tech diagnostic devices to scan the patient. Albert is then able to review the video images live on his computer. He can also order lab tests as needed and prescribe medication.

“What we’re learning so far from our telemedicine patients in Bennington is that probably 80 percent of them can be seen in this way to manage their disease,” Albert said.

The Bennington hospital’s partnership with Albert and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Center for Telehealth arose partly because of the retirement of another physician earlier this year and the difficulty in recruiting a rheumatologist to a rural area, said Dr. Trey Hobson, the hospital’s chief medical officer.

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