While telemedicine is creating ripples in the healthcare sector, remote care is being adopted by many clinics and healthcare providers to offer better healthcare to patients without the escalating cost of traditional medicine. An article published in EHRIntelligence.com earlier this year delineated the current state of telemedicine and remote monitoring facilities in the U.S through a case study of remote monitoring applied by Missouri-based Catholic health system, the Sisters of Mercy Health System. As the 6th largest Catholic health system in the U.S, Mercy boasts a well-developed telemedicine infrastructure that enables round-the-clock monitoring of patients, both in-house and remote. With an innovative tele-ICU program serving thousands of patients, Mercy is well on its way to opening the gates to nation’s first dedicated telehealth center in 2015.
In the article, the Vice President of Mercy’s Telehealth Services, Wendy Diebert, explained how Mercy uses telehealth for cases of intensive care and for monitoring most critically-ill patients. How did they do it? Let’s take a look:
They have a robust telehealth infrastructure
While most healthcare systems start with e-consultation as the first step toward adopting telemedicine, Mercy launched its telemedicine campaign with the e-ICU first. With over 450 tele-ICU beds across Missouri, 15 hospitals and 28 ICU units, they have approximately10-12 nurses for each shift, and five physicians for round-the-clock support. All of Mercy’s clinics have at least three telemedicine rooms to facilitate remote monitoring and treatment for all kinds of healthcare issues.
Their telehealth system is agnostic to EHR
Mercy’s telehealth software is agnostic to EHR, which allows them to assess the level of patient care on a broader level. They analyze and compare the data from various ICUs and care centers in their systems to evaluate their performance. This helps them to apply the best performance metrics to all the other ICUs in their system.
On reimbursement and physician licensing challenges
Mercy has two and a half FTEs solely dedicated to licensing, credentialing, and privileging. While they have been credentialed at most hospitals, they still have some applications pending to be credentialed, which will make their processes even more robust.
Primary takeaways from Mercy’s case study:
This is a fascinating look at telemedicine at work. Some of the key takeaways and factors contributing to their overall success with this program include:
Interoperability of systems and software can be achieved by using agnostic technology that fuels better expansion and collaboration.
- Having only a telemedicine infrastructure won’t drive results. Infrastructure needs to be combined with appropriate healthcare staff to create an efficient telemedicine healthcare system. In other words, building it is great, but if you don’t allocate resources for the staff you’ll need to keep it running, it most likely won’t scale.
- Keeping the patients in their own community while they can receive the best degree of treatment and care should be the main motto of telemedicine facilities.
Have you included any of these methods in your telemedicine strategy?
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org