Endocrinologist Sravanthi Madala, MD on Addressing the Disparities in Healthcare

Raised in Massachusetts, Dr. Sravanthi Madala entered the medical field with a deep commitment to addressing disparities within the healthcare industry. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology and Theater Arts at Brandeis University, her Master's from Boston University, medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia, residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Connecticut, and Fellowship in Endocrinology at Brown University. Finally, she made her way back to Massachusetts, where she is an outpatient endocrinologist. Now celebrating her anniversary as a specialist at Sitka Medical Associates, we asked Dr. Madala a few questions about her experience using vConsults and her hope for the future of healthcare.

What inspired you to become an endocrinologist?

One of the main driving reasons for going into medicine was to address the disparities within healthcare. During my medical training, I loved endocrinology because it touched so many organs and intertwines with many fields. We focus on preventative care with much of our time devoted to lifestyle changes and pharmacotherapeutic intervention when necessary. I enjoy being able to focus on subtleties in my patients' lives and making micro-interventions that change the landscape of their disease through exercise, nutrition, and other lifestyle changes, all while embracing evidence-based medicine to help prevent high-risk conditions (heart disease, strokes, etc).

In the world of endocrinology, the vast amount of therapeutic options allow me to meet patients at their personal barriers, whether they are in financial hardships and have limited access to vital medicines such as insulin, transportation, are differently abled individuals, or other factors that hinder their access to equitable healthcare. To tailor care to each personal individualized situation is rewarding for both my patients and myself. It allows patients to take control of their health.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how we can improve healthcare with innovative tools. I have a wonderful husband who is a senior director of software engineering at a healthcare company and we love collaborating our ideas about different approaches to healthcare and health disparities. Sometimes, we want to present our ideas on Shark Tank, but then get caught up with our two young sons, our dog, and our respective jobs. A year or two or three later, we wonder where all the time has gone.

Before 2020, what was your perception of vConsults (video consults), and how has it changed?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of accessing vConsults seemed like a fantasy waiting to happen. There are many terrible things that have happened during the pandemic, but I’m relieved to see that together, we found a way to improve access to care with virtual consults. Now that I’m using vConsults, I’ve been able to better help my patients manage their blood sugars in between in-office visits by reviewing their logs and lifestyle changes with them, as well as treating other conditions virtually. If necessary, I would bring them in for an in-person visit and in-person follow-up appointments.

What are the challenges facing vConsults today? What are the benefits?

Overall, insurance coverage is an enormous challenge in telemedicine, which is why a platform like Sitka helps to bridge that gap and ensures accessibility of equitable care. Other challenges include the inability to perform a physical exam, as so much can be garnered from an in-office examination. However, a significant benefit is being able to screen thoroughly and initially build a big picture of a patient's health and then bring them into the office for a physical exam, opening up more in-office time for more patients by making in-person visits more focused.

Another major benefit of vConsults is the accessibility and timeliness of care. Even if a patient cannot make it to the office, because of a myriad of reasons that can happen to anyone, they can still get their health and related issues addressed by doing a simple video consult from wherever they are. In a booming age of technology where most people have access to the internet, vConsults has proven to be paramount to good patient care. In those cases where patients don't have access to the internet, these are also the same patients that have difficulty accessing transportation to get to the doctor’s office. Platforms like Sitka that work by connecting specialists to primary care providers bridge this gap by ensuring a timely and thorough history and medical information are transferred to the appropriate specialist so that asynchronous non-emergent care can be provided. In the long run, we can hopefully prevent those emergent situations from arising.

How do you keep abreast of the latest developments in the healthcare industry?

I am an avid reader and keep abreast with new guidelines and clinical updates through journal subscriptions, as well as attend conferences in my specialty every year. This is where I connect with experts in the field and learn about the latest innovations and advancements.

What is one thing you hope will change for good within the healthcare industry?

I hope to see more support for medical providers. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and everyone on the medical team deserve a work-life balance so they can be human and be great caregivers to the people they love in a sustainable manner. This means paid parental leave, bridging the gender gap in pay and revenue, and many other things.

Another important change in medical care is improving timely access to medication and care, and removing barriers, like the tremendous cost of prescription medications.  I also hope to see more direct doctor-patient interaction and less of an emphasis on meeting the sometimes challenging needs of insurance companies. While I still feel we are moving too slow in some aspects of medical care, we are certainly moving forward in others. I’m hopeful that the pendulum is swinging in the right direction and will continue to move us along on the road to better healthcare.

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Interested in joining our team of virtual care specialists? Learn more about Sitka Medical Associates.