Thrive by IU Health

June 03, 2021

Telehealth enables patients to receive care in their community

IU Health White Memorial Hospital

Telehealth enables patients to receive care in their community

During this pandemic, we have all learned the value of technology in being able to work remotely and stay in touch with friends and family. Technology also has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare and to make it accessible to more people.

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Indiana University Health Foundation, IU Health White Memorial Hospital now provides improved telehealth services.

Telehealth healthcare workers showcasing new telecommunications technologies

Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public imaging, streaming media and terrestrial and wireless communications. Telehealth is utilized widely throughout the IU Health system, state and country as the standard of practice to provide the best care for patients at all times, regardless of location.

“We are able to increase our support services for our patients by adding increased care in specialties like Cardiology, Neurology, Hospitalist coverage, surgery, GI and hospice care just to name a few, thanks to telehealth,” explained Renea Smith, chief nursing officer for IU Health White Memorial Hospital.

Rural hospitals and their patients have extra challenges to accessing specialty services at a distant site. Thanks to telehealth, patients have access to specialists within IU Health White Memorial hospital versus having to transfer to a different facility to receive specialty care. A physician is able to consult with cardiology or neurology, for example, about a potential heat attack or a stroke; allowing an assessment that is inclusive of a full patient exam comprehensive of heart, lung and abdominal sounds, neuro exams and imaging that the physician on both ends can hear, see and discuss together live, with the patient all in the same room at the same time.

Telehealth enables patients to receive care in their community, avoiding transfers and long travel times. With the shortage of some medical specialties in rural communities, telehealth can play an important role in ensuring patients have access to the care they need close to home.

Telehealth provides opportunities to make healthcare more efficient, better coordinated and closer to home. The goals of telehealth include the following:

  • Make healthcare accessible to people who live in rural or isolated communities.
  • Make services more readily available or convenient for people with limited mobility, time or transportation options.
  • Provide access to medical specialists.
  • Improve communication and coordination of care among members of a healthcare team and a patient.
  • Provide support for self-management of healthcare.

“To date we have been able to add nocturnist coverage which now allows 24/7 coverage and support for our patients, successful neurology consults as well as palliative care consult all with great success and ability to further support our patients needs within our own four walls, avoiding unnecessary transfers,” said Smith. “We have also used telehealth to support virtual psyche needs for our patients with great success.”

Mary Minier, president of IU Health White Memorial added, “The funding from the IU Health Foundation to purchase the most up-to-date telehealth carts has allowed us to continue our journey in providing the very best care for our community.”

Last month, IU Health hospitals across the state received more than $600,000 in grants from IU Health Foundation for projects focused on making Indiana one of the nation’s healthiest states. The grant dollars supported the Foundation’s funding priorities of people, progress and partnerships.