During the eight years since it began its telemedicine initiative, Eagle has established programs providing telehospitalist services and a range of telemedicine specialties in acute care hospitals across the United States. It entered the LTACH market recently, and is currently providing telemedicine night coverage to three LTACH facilities in North Carolina: Select Specialty Hospitals in Durham, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. The facilities are part of Select's network of more than 100 long-term acute care sites across the United States.
Telemedicine and LTACHs: A natural fit
An estimated 10-20 percent of hospital patients with critical illness require prolonged medical care after acute care hospitalization. They might be on a ventilator or have other needs like ongoing dialysis or wound care that require more specialized physician care than a skilled nursing facility (SNF) provides. LTACHs have grown significantly over the last 25 years in response to a growing patient population. Some are free-standing facilities; others occupy wings or sections of acute care hospitals.
"LTACH patients don't usually require any higher level of nursing care than patients in SNFs," said Dr. McCormick. "With the low-intensity level of nursing and primary physician care, however, comes a higher level of specialized physician care for LTACH patients—requiring more visits by specialists than most hospital patients typically need. Telemedicine can easily fill this need."
Providing a range of needed services
Here are a few examples of how telemedicine is working for LTACHs.
- Economies of scale. One telemedicine primary care physician or hospitalist can typically cover rounding requirements for five LTACHs with a cumulative total of 100 beds.
- Specialists when needed. Depending on patient mix at an LTACH on any given day, telemedicine specialists in cardiology, nephrology, neurology, and pulmonary care can be immediately available.
- Night coverage. With a telemedicine team providing comprehensive coverage of all night calls, code management and admissions, a LTACH can let its physicians recharge and revitalize, knowing their patients are in good hands at night.
- Pre-emptive rounding. Other than routine daily rounds, physicians are also needed at a LTACH to do pre-emptive rounding—that is, rounding to address any small problems before they become major ones. This is another proactive task that telemedicine physicians can regularly perform.
Rapid response is key
Through telemedicine, a physician can generally be interacting with a patient within two minutes of receiving a call or text message for assistance. This rapid response is another reason telemedicine is in demand today—among acute care hospitals, and now in the LTACH market. "At Eagle, we are proud to be well positioned—with a wealth of experience and best practices as well as the physician resources across many telespecialties—to meet this growing demand," said Dr. McCormick.
EHP supports hospitalist programs in hospitals across the United States. Led by physicians who are pioneers in the hospitalist movement, the company delivers Clinical Performance Management (CPM) services to in-house hospitalist programs, telemedicine programs, physician recruitment and support services, and turnkey hospitalist programs. With years of experience in hospital leadership and hundreds of successful client engagements, EHP shares its expertise through tailored solutions that meet the evolving needs of hospitals today. For more information, visit www.eaglehospitalphysicians.com.
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SOURCE Eagle Hospital Physicians