Rural areas, often amid remarkable and isolated landscapes, are a defining characteristic of much of the United States. But those corresponding landscapes can make it challenging for people to obtain health care.
Intermountain Healthcare is approaching the urgent requirements of people who reside in rural areas through telehealth, which utilizes secure video and audio technology to unite care providers in modest health care facilities with experts in large hospitals. The results that have been encountered hold promise for rural populations throughout America.
In provincial America, patients are usually hundreds of miles from the care they require. Community clinics, with low volumes and restrained budgets, typically don’t have specialists like neurologists, neonatologists, and cardiologists on the team. And even when they do, there are frequently too few to ensure constant coverage.
Patients are generally transferred to remote acute care centers to receive functional care. Local caregivers don’t get the chance to learn from specialists about heeding for complicated patients. Furthermore, social workers, emergency workers, and care administrators for chronic diseases are seldom not available in humbler communities, requiring patients to move hours for underlying mental wellness and primary concern.
Telehealth converts those situations to everyone’s advantage. The patient receives proficient treatment locally without the calculated risk and cost of substitution to a bigger hospital. Local clinics retain vital revenue and improve their services. Community brothers get better care that’s found on evidence-based best applications. Health care is excellent overall.
Intermountain manages 24 hospitals and 160 dispensaries in Utah and Idaho — a track that’s about the size of Italy. But their Connect Care Pro operation produces 40 telehealth services in seven western regions to many departments that are not part of Intermountain. They have a 24/7 telehealth hub in Salt Lake City with a full-time staff, alongside about 500 care providers on request who are in a wide variety of medical specialties.
The company has guaranteed that the televisions in patient chambers throughout their system and associated hospitals, in both urban and rural environments, have cameras to provide for telehealth care, and their hospitals also have trucks with cameras that can be wheeled into cabins as needed. Telehealth-connected experts can communicate immediately with patients and local caregivers and receive a real-time description of their medical conditions.
The advantages to patients are intense. Recently, a baby born in a rural population with a hole in his lung obtained telehealth care using Intermountain’s 24/7 on-demand mode. The baby received a critical care consultation that enabled him to stay in the hospital where he was born instead of being transported to a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at one of Intermountain’s tertiary care institutions. That eluded a helicopter transfer that would have required more than USD 18,000. The parents were able to live in their community, enclosed by their support system, instead of performing a seven-hour round-trip of more than 400 miles each time they wanted to see their baby in the NICU. And, the rural dispensary was able to maintain the revenue for attending for the baby, helping it prevail economically viable.
The advantages are also visible for health care broadly. The company has experienced a notable decrease in the avoidable emergency room and urgent care usage among patients who have used the service. Sixty-two percent of patients who employed Intermountain Connect Care reported that they would have differently accessed care at an emergency room or outstanding care clinic. And, as the health care moves toward a value-based paradigm that rewards providers for accomplishing better outcomes at economical costs and away from a fee-for-service design that bases reimbursement on the volume of services rendered, telehealth permits the best use of sources to provide high-quality application at the lowest possible price.