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New Telehealth Programs Help Rural Communities Better Treat Specialized Cases

Telehealth services and telemedicine are quickly becoming the hot trend in the healthcare industry. In one of the most recent developments, Intermountain Healthcare began four new telehealth programs to help patients with expert advice when reaching their specialist isn’t possible for whatever reason.

According to the hospital and healthcare industry site, the programs that Intermountain has developed, which are somewhat unique in the field, involve setting up telehealth services inside of actual hospitals. Normally people think of telemedicine as being available remotely from the comfort of their own homes, and that usually is the case.

By making these services available in hospital beds and ICUs, patients, especially in more rural and understaffed regions, can have immediate access to the specialists and experts their particular cases call for. By working in conjunction with the medical personnel on staff, these specialists can help determine and set up the best course of action for each individual patient and can provide help in real-time virtually the minute they’re needed.

The very first of these programs offered data on mortality rates, length of stay, and retention rates, all of which improved considerably over the first six months, according to Tara Larkin, their operations director of telehealth services.

While the first of these initiatives focused on hospitals in general, the other three are more specific. One is devoted to newborn intensive care, another on stroke diagnosis, and the last is behavioral health.

“These first four initiatives, and the technology we have rolled out throughout the Intermountain system, will enable us to quickly bring other programs online, including a pediatric trauma service that will use the existing platform to connect with all the EDs,” Larkin wrote.

It’s estimated that the number of patients using telehealth services will grow from 350,000 in 2013 to seven million in 2018, and new programs like these are the main reason.

“As population health becomes a priority at more and more hospitals across the country, telehealth will become increasingly crucial,” Larkin wrote. “It enhances care, avoids unnecessary costs and improves the patient experience.”

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