Discussions of modern telemedicine solutions often focus on things like medical kiosks in retail locations and giving patients the opportunity to see their doctors from the comfort of their own homes. But did you know that hospitals can utilize telemedicine to better treat patients on-site?
Although rural hospitals tend to benefit from telemedicine more, there is still a place for the technology in urban hospitals. The idea is to deploy telemedicine solutions where they could be best utilized to make up for a hospital’s shortcomings. It could be deployed to offer everything from diagnostic health screenings to emergency care.
Helping Psychiatric Patients in Vermont
Psychiatric care in northeastern Vermont can be challenging due to a limited number of beds at a limited number of treatment facilities. A recent case cited in a story published on the Seven Days website illustrates what care providers are up against. The case involved a psychiatric patient in her twenties who ended up in a local ER after severe depression led her to consider suicide.
The hospital is small enough that it does not employ its own psychiatric staff. ER personnel began calling around looking for an empty bed at a psychiatric facility within a reasonable distance. They couldn’t find one. So instead, they contacted a telemedicine company based in Burlington, a company that specializes in remote psychiatric care.
By housing the patient for several days in the emergency department and treating her via a telemedicine connection to the Burlington provider, the hospital was able to keep her safe until her condition improved enough to discharge her.
Professionals Working with Professionals
The Vermont example illustrates how healthcare professionals can deploy telemedicine solutions to get help from other professionals in times of need. Who knows what would have happened to this patient had the local hospital not had access to the Burlington provider through telemedicine.
These sorts of things illustrate why telemedicine is so important in the modern era, according to CSI Health out of San Antonio, Texas. CSI Health believes that the potential of telemedicine moving forward is limited only by the healthcare industry’s willingness to embrace it.
No Hospital Does It All
Getting back to how telemedicine can help hospitals treat patients on-site, it is clear from the Vermont case that no hospital does it all. Even the largest and most prestigious urban hospitals have their limits. Granted, they have greater financial resources and the economics of scale on their side but going outside of their own walls to plug holes in their service is normal.
Turning to telehealth to obtain service from a specialized telemedicine company is one way hospitals can use the technology. But it is not the only way. Another option is to connect hospitals with locum tenons providers working in other locations. Telemedicine gives hospitals access to locum services without necessarily requiring locums to work on-site.
That is one way to address the ongoing doctor shortage. If a hospital has a limited physician staff and locums are available via telemedicine, hospital staff can focus their efforts on patients that truly need in-person consultations. Meanwhile, locums can handle the cases that do not require face-to-face visits.
Not Just for Patients
The main take-away here is that telemedicine is not just for patients. It is definitely a tool for giving patients greater access to healthcare services without making things more difficult on them. But telehealth is also a tool for hospitals, local clinics, primary care offices, etc. It can be deployed to treat patients remotely or provide better care on-site. At least one Vermont hospital knows this from first-hand experience.