How TeleHealth is Improving Patient Care

by Denise Molina-Weiger
OSF HealthCare

OSF TeleHealth is expanding to tackle one of the most complex issues facing healthcare.

Telehealth is still relatively new to the healthcare industry. However, OSF HealthCare was an early adopter with the launch of OSF ConstantCare, or the eICU, in 2012. The eICU allows critical care physicians and nurses in Peoria to communicate with medical personnel across the organization who are taking care of patients with intensive care needs. The goal is to add an extra layer of protection for these vulnerable patients.

OSF has expanded its telehealth capabilities in a number of ways since then. Families and individuals can seek medical help for minor illnesses quickly by using OSF OnCall, a 24/7 virtual urgent care service that allows patients to visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner over a smartphone, tablet or computer without making an appointment. Patients from smaller communities no longer have to drive to Peoria to seek specialized care; they can now easily receive consultations with neurologists, pediatricians and cardiologists through videoconferencing.

OSF TeleHealth, a part of OSF Innovation, continues to advance its capabilities. The department is now venturing into using mobile applications to better engage patients in their heath. It also hopes to expand its footprint and tackle one of the most complex issues facing healthcare: hospital readmissions.

HealthLoop
OSF will soon roll out HealthLoop, an application designed to improve communication between physicians and patients ahead of a medical procedure and following discharge. The goal is to reduce complications following surgery and prevent hospital readmissions.

The digital platform automatically sends prompts that continuously guide and educate patients before and after a procedure and for the duration of recovery. It tracks progress along the way and allows patients to easily ask questions and receive quick responses from their care providers.

HealthLoop also gives clinical teams the ability to assess how patients are doing, allowing physicians and nurses to intervene sooner, reducing the need for an emergency room visit. OSF Telehealth is in the process of implementing other patient engagement tools in the future.

Virtual Care Program
The next challenge is to build a virtual care program that caters to critical, complex patients who are at high risk for hospital readmissions. This new program will be collaborative and multidisciplinary, supported by data, analytics and technology to deliver healthcare to patients when and where they need it.

The multidisciplinary team would include physicians, advanced practice nurses, nurses, care managers, health coaches, pharmacists, social workers and dieticians. The program will essentially allow care teams to stay connected and closely monitor patients with complex needs in their homes to prevent complications and additional hospital stays.

Right Care, Right Place, Right Time
A major goal for OSF TeleHealth is to innovate better ways to deliver care and empower patients to become more engaged in their own health and wellness. It’s through the opportunistic use of technology that this service is helping to improve outcomes, reduce costs and improve access to care—allowing for timely diagnosis and treatment. iBi

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