Profiles in Telehealth: A Physician’s Thoughts on the Future of Telemedicine and Healthcare Technology

Telemedicine physician and self-proclaimed “Pizza King,” Dr. Forrest, shares how his interest in heath tech and informatics brought him to telemedicine and his thoughts on the future of healthcare data management.

What’s your background and what brought you to virtual care?

After graduating from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!!) with a degree in biology, I followed my interests in ecology and conservation and started a career as an environmental scientist.

However, I’ve always been genuinely interested in medicine. So after about 9 years in the environmental field, I decided to go to medical school. Thereafter, I completed an Emergency Medicine residency and have been practicing as a board certified EM physician for the last 5 years.

Most recently, I finished a graduate program in clinical informatics, and I’m excited to be part of the movement to fulfill the potential that technology has to improve patient care.

What’s your life like outside of work?

After residency, my wife and I moved back to my hometown of Savannah, GA, and we love spending time with our two children on the water or at the beach whenever possible.

I also consider myself somewhat of a pro home chef, and there is reason to believe that I have perfected the home oven pizza. In fact, I’m known around town as the Pizza King. Yes, I gave myself this nickname, but that’s besides the point.

What brought you to telemedicine?

The task of managing a busy emergency room with a dysfunctional EMR is what initially piqued my interest in health technology and informatics. In turn, my interest in health technology naturally led me to telemedicine....and then coronavirus came.

America’s safety net (aka the ER) was bursting at the seams with patients that had nowhere else to go, and the system was being crushed to the point of failure under the weight of the unprecedented demand.

Telemedicine was clearly an excellent option for many of these patients, so I decided to engage the problem and become more involved with telemedicine to increase access to healthcare and ease the burden on the system.

What’s your Wheel Moment of Freedom?

A 12-hour shift doesn’t leave much time for anything else that day, and if you work several shifts in a row, it’s fairly easy to become oblivious to the outside world.

Telemedicine has allowed me to reduce my ER shift load and be more present in life outside of work, and I’m very thankful for that. Even more importantly, through the course of this pandemic, I’ve helped to provide access to healthcare for hundreds of patients who otherwise had no option.

What do you think the future of healthcare holds?

As telemedicine becomes more established it will continue to rapidly expand, and I have no doubt that it will soon be a standard component of everyone’s healthcare.

For example, all of the health data being collected by the “internet of things” and smart peripherals is fairly useless if you can’t connect the clinician with the patient, and telemedicine will fill this role.

Of course we will need to be able to manage all of this data properly, but I think the NoSQL database arena will be up to the task. I have a particular interest in scale free networks, so I’m excited about what graph databases are doing for healthcare data management.

The potential for what telemedicine and technology can do to improve healthcare is exponential, and I’m happy to be just one part of the diverse team of professionals that will make it happen.

Thanks, Dr. Forrest, for being an essential member of the #WheelCareTeam!

Interested in joining our team of virtual care clinicians? Learn more about working in telehealth with Wheel.

Discover more clinician experiences in our previous Care Team spotlight interviews with an LCSW on how he got started in virtual therapy, an NP on fulfilling her dream of working completely remote, and an NP on finding balance in her busy life with virtual care.