Intermountain Medical Center

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Intermountain Healthcare opens virtual hospital without building or walls

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Intermountain Healthcare has launched one of the nation’s largest virtual hospital services called Intermountain Connect Care Pro and MD Linda Venner is a part of the new service bringing together 35 telehealth programs and more than 500 caregivers to enable patients to receive the medical care they need, regardless of where they are.

Connect Care Pro provides basic medical care as well as advanced services, such as stroke evaluation, mental health counseling, intensive care, and newborn critical care.  While it doesn’t replace the need for on-site caregivers, it supplements existing staff and provides specialized services in rural communities where those types of medical care usually aren’t readily available.

Because the healthcare services are online and digital, Connect Care Pro isn’t located in a specific building, but provides much of the same care that you’d find in a large, medically-advanced hospital. This clinically integrated, digitally-enabled approach not only improves the quality of care in the communities served, but saves patients and clinicians time and money.

Connect Care Pro uses the same technology to connect providers in our hospitals and clinics to other providers that can support them with specialized care. 

For example, a patient that is having a stroke in Delta can now get a full evaluation from a neurologist at Intermountain Medical Center. That neurologist will work with the local doctor to determine the best treatment plan, and in many cases, prevent that patient from being transferred away from their community and support network.

If a patient needs to be transferred, Connect Care Pro also includes clinical coordination teams, Transfer Center, Patient Placement, and Life Flight. Intermountain Healthcare is bringing all of these programs together in order to streamline care for patients and support doctors and other caregivers.

 
Connect Care Pro main goals:

Provide access to care in homes and patients’ communities wherever possible. Connect Care does this now, and is set to expand beyond urgent care beginning later this year.
Provide local caregivers access to specialty clinical services needed to safely care for patients and reduce unnecessary transfers whenever possible.
Streamline the transfer process for referring providers, optimize patients for transport, and identify the most appropriate location for patient transfer.
Build clinical partnerships that bring care to patients where they are, keep them in their communities, reduce unnecessary transfers, ensure greater stewardship over quality and safety, and establish consistent, high-quality care for every patient.

Successes:

The Intermountain Newborn Critical Care program from 2013-2017 prevented 117 transfers in 8 hospitals, with over $2 million cost savings.
The Intermountain Critical Care program has reduced length of stay, and decreased mortality by over 33% while increasing the level of acuity rural locations can support.

For example, an infant at a southern Utah hospital was being supported via Connect Care Pro services and received a critical care consultation that allowed the sick baby to stay in that facility instead of being transferred to a newborn intensive care unit in Salt Lake City.

This single avoided transfer would have cost more than $18,000. The parents of this baby were able to remain in their community, surrounded by their support system, instead of traveling what would have amounted to 400 miles and seven hours round-trip every time they wanted to see their baby. Using this technology to reduce the need for transfers of ill newborns to other hospitals, Intermountain lowered the cost of care for patients by more than $2.1 million over several years.

All Intermountain Healthcare hospitals including 10 of Intermountain’s rural hospitals use the offerings of the virtual hospital to supplement or add to their existing services, and nine hospitals outside the Intermountain Healthcare system have already signed up to provide high-level care and keep patients closer to home whenever possible.

One such hospital is Kane County Hospital, an independent rural facility located in Kanab, Utah. 

“Our partnership with Intermountain Connect Care Pro has had a huge positive impact on our community,” said Charlene Kelly RN, BSN, chief nursing officer at the hospital. “Kanab has had one of the highest suicide rates in the state, not including patients that come to us from our border town in Arizona, and we don’t have a crisis worker here.  Trying to place a patient who has not had a crisis evaluation was next to impossible.  With crisis care from Intermountain Healthcare, patients receive that crisis evaluation in less than an hour, and if the crisis worker recommends inpatient treatment they assist in placing the patient. Our providers just love having this service available.”

Intermountain Connect Care Pro also plans to extend these services in the community where they can easily be accessed in underserved areas.  Discussions are underway to put patient kiosks or access devices in locations such as homeless shelters, schools, community centers, and perhaps jails, to make getting needed care more accessible.

This article contains sponsored content.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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