There are only five geriatric psychiatrists in the state of Nebraska and they provide services to more than 80 nursing homes and care centers statewide. University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Dr. Tom Magnuson is one of them and says they are able to perform this service through a secure telehealth platform. He connects with families, health care professionals and patients on a weekly basis.
Magnuson says, “At the University, I think we are very serious about providing care across the state and all of these people are citizens of the state of Nebraska and just because there is a geographical distance, that shouldn’t affect their ability to receive our level of care.”
The University uses a secure telehealth platform and are able to treat patients online. Without this technology, patients would have to travel two hours or more to other facilities to receive this health care. Dr. Magnuson specializes in the biological and psychological aspects of normal aging and the psychiatric effects of acute and chronic physical illness. He says because patients are older and more fragile, you have to pay attention to different needs. Some patients may show agitation by crying, yelling or physically hitting and throwing items.
Dr. Magnuson says, “Many times their behaviors are the result of a physical ailment, dementia or disease that can be managed through medication or non-medical interventions.” Through the telehealth platform, he can monitor medications and make sure patients are not getting ones they don’t need. He can also provide education to staff to help them better care for patients without the use of medication.
Dr. Magnuson is able to connect with patients and their health care providers on a weekly basis and averages more than 450 visits a year.