Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County is part of a growing trend that is changing the basic idea of care delivery through the addition of telehealth services. A new field of medicine, telehealth offers innovative, life-saving practices for intensive care unit patients, stroke patients and patients fighting infectious disease.
Each individual technology under the telehealth medicine umbrella brings targeted treatment to these patients. In all cases, telehealth breaks down traditional barriers to care like geography, time, and lack of specialists in rural or remote areas.
TeleGuardian, eICU monitoring technology
Through new eICU monitoring technology, known as TeleGuardian, specially-trained ICU registered nurses in Baptist’s TeleHealth Center, based in Memphis, will work directly with the hospital’s intensive care and critical care teams, serving as real-time support and collaborating with teams on the floor. Patients benefit in several key ways:
- Higher overall survival rates.
- 24/7 remote patient monitoring by experienced critical care nurses who can answer questions or discuss patient care.
- Education and mentoring for newer ICU nurses.
- Changes in patients’ conditions are quickly identified in real time and addressed immediately to help avoid complications during recovery.
- Shorter lengths of stay in the unit for some patients.
- Fewer days on a ventilator.
- Lower rate of preventable complications, such as pneumonia and sepsis.
Through a camera and monitor mounted on the wall in each of the hospital’s eight ICU rooms, nurses in Memphis can view a New Albany patient in real time, said Vickie Byars, manager of the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“Our ICU nurses are incredibly detail-oriented, experienced and skilled in both taking care of patients and attending to the family’s needs,” said Randy White, chief nursing officer at Baptist Union County. “With the added benefit TeleGuardian provides, our hospital can take ICU care to the next level.”
Patients who may be suffering from stroke or other neurological problems can now gain a critical layer of care through the new TeleStroke service. During a stroke, millions of brain cells die per minute, so getting care quickly is critical. When a patient arrives in the hospital’s emergency department with neurological symptoms, the neurology team immediately assesses their condition and then connects with a telemedicine cart, a video communication technology designed to allow a neurologist to provide 24/7 consultation from an off-site location. Clear benefits exist for the patient:
- Provides a fast and accurate diagnosis for neurology patients.
- Neurologist consult available 24/7 to provide guidance to the emergency room staff on how best to treat the patient, including whether or not the patient needs to be admitted or transferred to another hospital.
- The neurologist can also guide the team on the administration of tPA, a clot-busting treatment administered through IV that is considered best practice in treating stroke patients.
- Typically, treatment is completed within an hour. When intervention happens early, patients generally experience better long-term recovery.
White also noted that the hospital offers infectious disease and neonatology consults via telemedicine.
“Ultimately, our motivation is the patient,” said White. “By offering an assortment of telehealth services, the patient has access to a greater variety of services, a higher level of care and in many cases, a better outcome.”
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County, the recipient of many awards and accolades, was awarded the Outstanding Patient Experience Award by Healthgrades and was named a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America, in 2012 and 2013. Baptist Union County offers a variety of health care services, including adult and pediatric inpatient services, labor and delivery, outpatient and laser surgery and a 24-hour, newly renovated emergency room. The hospital also offers telemedicine and imaging and laboratory services, including an American College of Radiology-accredited MRI machine.
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