TeleHealth is making a difference in the support of Intermountain's critically ill patients

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In 2012, one of Intermountain’s rural hospitals wanted to open an ICU, but it was not practical to staff with a full-time intensivist (a doctor specially-trained in intensive medicine and critical care). This hospital’s administrator came to us and said they wanted to use TeleHealth to provide the Critical Care support they needed to open their ICU. Three years later, and we are now providing critical care support to 12 ICUs in the Intermountain system in addition to Star Valley Medical Center in Afton, Wyoming. Recently, we presented the results of this program, which show we are improving patient care, and keeping sicker patients closer to home.

Before I get to those results, let me explain how it works: A 24/7 team of 22 doctors and 20 nurses located in Midvale, Utah, collaborate with bedside teams in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming on patient monitoring and care efforts. Audio and video hardware connect us to more than 260 beds, allowing our team to monitor patient conditions, provide real-time clinical support, and ensure consistency of care. The team is simply another part of the care team. The involvement of our teams is intended to reduce the need to transfer patients to larger facilities if proper care can be provided in the local critical care unit.

An emphasis on providing quality patient care and improving outcomes – including length of stay, mortality rates, and efficiency of patient management – has remained our overall goal. With 18 months’ worth of data, the greatest improvements have occurred in community hospitals, both in the ICU and overall hospital mortality rates, which have had a relative drop of 42% and 40% respectively. We elected early in development not to seek reimbursement directly from the patient. Our program is funded by the hospitals we support. With one year of data we have been able to demonstrate a $3.3 million decrease in charges from insurance and a $4.3 million decrease in the cost to provide care for a net financial benefit of $1.03 million. As accountable care models become more prevalent in healthcare, Intermountain’s savings will ultimately represent an even greater financial gain.

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In January, Healthcare Business Insiders printed an article that goes more in-depth on the findings and benefits of TeleHealth’s Critical Care program. You can read the whole article here: