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Telemedicine in the Hospital Setting-More Than You Think!

Scott Berghoff

Written by Scott Berghoff

How important is the hospital in today’s healthcare environment? The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports close to 57 million Americans “rely on the hospitals in their rural or non-urban towns for medical care.” So the answer is: very important, especially to those 57 million Americans! Around 65% of U.S. hospitals use telemedicine in one form or another, and 53% have “fully implemented at least one form” of telemedicine.

Solving For the Physician Shortage

Telemedicine is still often thought of as medicine-over-the-phone, or sending an x-ray or CT scan report to the radiologist. As important as their expert interpretations are, telemedicine has grown into remote monitoring of patients after being discharged, 24/7 access to patients and providers, consulting via videoconference, and wireless communication of devices — glucometers, defibrillators and pacemakers —  to name a few. While this has improved the convenience factor for patients, is also has shown its “potential to improve hospital workforce stability.” This is vital in the rural setting. The ratio of patient-to-primary-care-provider in rural America is only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people. In the average urban setting that ratio is 53.3 physicians per 100,000 people. It’s no wonder that 57 million rural Americans rely on their hospital for their basic care.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a report stating 53 percent of rural Americans (22 million people) lack access to high-speed internet. To improve on this situation, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a program in late 2018 to provide high-speed internet and improved broadband connectivity to rural America.

Rural areas also have shown a higher rate of diabetes and coronary heart disease when compared to their urban counterparts. The ability to have endocrinologists and cardiologists remotely monitor these patients with a stable telemedicine platform would improve these patients’ outcomes tremendously.

Not Just A Rural Thing

Don’t think telemedicine is only useful for the rural hospital setting.

In 2016, the AHA reported over half of all American hospitals have implemented “remote patient monitoring capabilities”. (Source: 2016 AHA Annual Survey IT Supplement).

Combine the data above with the following information and you have a pretty powerful equation leading to the conclusion that now is the time for hospitals to adopt and implement a full enterprise telemedicine system.

Need some more proof? Take a look at these findings from the AHA:

  • Post telemedicine visits require fewer follow-up visits (compared to office and ED visits)

  • Telemedicine could “substitute for more costly ED visits”

  • Telemedicine provides hospital services in the patient’s home

    • Johns Hopkins’ application of this model significantly lowered the total care-cost by 32 percent ($5,081 vs. $7,480)

    • Mean length of stay for patients decreased by a third (3.2 days vs. 4.9 days)

    • Delirium cases declined from 24% to only 9%

  • Telemedicine visits reduce admissions to the hospital from nursing home environments

It is hard to make an argument against implementing an enterprise-level, HIPAA compliant, stable and proven telemedicine platform in any hospital environment when the data overwhelmingly points to improved patient outcomes and convenience, reduced readmission rates, and improved and improving reimbursement paradigms.

To see how eVisit can fill your hospital system’s needs, whether it be a rural or urban location, call us at 844-693-8474 or here to schedule a demo.

Published: January 21, 2019