OSU TeleHealth Solution connecting rural hospitals to physician specialists during COVID-19 emergency
Monday, May 4, 2020
Oklahoma State University Medicine is substantially increasing its telemedicine capability this week to aid rural hospitals and communities as part of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 Task Force response. OSU’s TeleHealth Solution technology was released to 10 new rural hospitals this week with plans to serve 30 Oklahoma markets by early June.
“Telemedicine is ideal for rural hospitals in the midst of our COVID-19 pandemic, providing them access to innovative technology, high-quality clinical expertise, and healthcare delivery modalities that allow patients to receive enhanced hospital care and treatment in the comfort of their local community. Additionally, when rural hospitals are able to treat more patients close to home, urban medical centers can increase their capacity to handle the most complicated patients,” noted Rhett Stover, chief executive officer of OSU Medicine in Tulsa. “The OSU TeleHealth Solution technology and service platform brings the expertise of highly-trained physicians right to the patient’s bedside. All OSU TeleHealth Solution physicians are adjunct faculty members of the OSU Center for Health Sciences and are available 24/7.”
The targeted hospitals for this program are all designated Critical Access and Sole Community Provider Hospitals, meaning they must be in rural areas located more than 35 miles from any other hospital, have fewer than 25 patient beds and provide an active emergency department.
The process activates when nurses in partner communities engage the OSU Telehealth Solution service at the patient’s bedside, often during an urgent medical need situation, typically in the emergency room. The hospital nurse uses the telemedicine technology to monitor the patient’s electrocardiogram (EKG), vital signs and other electronic assessments which are digitally transmitted to the distant physician who then assesses the patient’s condition and makes treatment recommendations. The telemedicine physician can follow the patient upon admission to coordinate and manage their care until they are released from the hospital.
“The recent rapid adoption of telemedicine services, accelerated by our nation’s COVID-19 emergency response measures, has created additional access to care in order to accommodate corresponding increases in patient demand for healthcare services across all healthcare communities,” continued Stover. “Fewer restrictions have resulted in a more inviting, broadly accessible approach to organizing clinical services and treatment through the provision of telemedicine, opening the service to care for more patients and COVID-19 stimulus money is providing funding to allow more Critical Access Hospitals in rural Oklahoma to participate in virtual medical care.”
Hospitals going online with TeleHealth Solutions this month include: Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau, Stilwell Memorial Hospital, Pawhuska Hospital, Inc., Prague Community Hospital, Mangum Regional Medical Center, Carnegie Tri-County Municipal Hospital, Seiling Municipal Hospital, Atoka Medical Center, Coal County General Hospital in Coalgate, Pushmataha Hospital in Antlers, Choctaw Memorial Hospital in Hugo, Stroud Regional Medical Center and the Physicians Hospital in Anadarko.
Fairfax Community Hospital in Osage County was the first hospital to integrate OSU TeleHealth Solution into its hospital operations last month and McCurtain County Memorial Hospital in Idabel joined last week. More than a dozen other rural Oklahoma hospitals are in various stages of commitment to becoming partners with OSU TeleHealth Solution this summer. Funding authorized through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to COVID-19.
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