receive IHA award for telemedicine program
Earlier this month at their October convention in Sun Valley the Idaho Hospital Association awarded St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and Clinics the 2011 Community Benefits Award for their telemedicine program. The award was presented by IHA President, Steve Millard, to Dr. Michael Meza, CVHC’s telemedicine director and Curtis Fryer, SMHC/CVHC telemedicine coordinator.
The facilities use RP-7 robots which allow urban specialists to ‘see’ patients locally. In the two and a half years since the program was initiated in conjunction with St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center specialists in cardiology, dermatology, emergency specialists, psychiatrists, hospitalists and burn specialists have consulted with both patients and the SMHC/CVHC health care providers.
In the first seven months of consulting with the Confera telehospitalists, a medical group based in Spokane, over 30 patients were retained at the local hospitals rather than being transported to distant facilities.
“This is a tremendous cost savings to families and the healthcare system,” said Casey Meza, CEO. “Not all the advantages are monetary, though. Patients tend to want to stay close to home with their doctor and family members close by. If our patients who need specialists can see them in our Orofino or Cottonwood clinics it saves them the three hour drive to Spokane or the five hour drive to Boise which can be inconvenient and costly.”
Since initiating their telepsychiatric program in February 2009, over 700 pediatric visits and 1200 adult visits have occurred between local patients and two Boise based psychiatrists.
The telemedicine program also includes cardiology consults with Spokane based cardiologists including Dr. Kevin Kavanaugh who has ‘seen’ patients on 86 occasions, thus saving costly and time consuming six hour round trips for local residents. A congestive heart failure specialist at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise has also provided 20 classes or consults for CHF patients. Telemergency consults are also available through Dr. Po Huang and his associates who provide emergency services for SARMC.
“We’ve recently started a teledermatology program using a dermatologist based in Minnesota,” said Fryer. The hospitals were also recognized by the National Rural Health Association as the Outstanding Rural Health Organization for 2011.