Videoconferencing technology brings expert physician care to patients and expert support to clinical staff.
BALDWIN, WI (MAY 2018) —Faced with a growing shortage of physicians, rural hospitals nationwide are using telemedicine to ensure consistent physician coverage, and now Western Wisconsin Health is the latest hospital to launch the innovative program. This program will go live at WW Health on Monday, May 28, 2018.
“We are pleased to bring the benefits of telemedicine to our patients,” said Alison Page, Chief Executive Officer of WW Health. “This new program will improve our ability to continue providing exceptional patient care. The team of telemedicine physicians we are working with are partners who collaborate with our own doctors and provide guidance and expertise to nurses and other clinical staff.”
How telemedicine works
In the new program, a robot on a rolling stand is equipped with a digital stethoscope and other diagnostic equipment, as well as a videoconferencing monitor and camera that enable physicians from remote locations to communicate directly, face to face, with patients and staff.
The robot can securely access a patient’s electronic medical record and lab results, and is equipped with GPS technology mapped to the layout of the hospital, so it can find the room of a patient on its own. Working behind the scenes is a cloud-based telehealth network that enables the connection between patient and physician, and a small team of telemedicine physicians specifically assigned to WW Health In this way, the physicians get to know the staff at the hospital, and build the working partnership required for top-quality care.
Good for patients, good for doctors
The telemedicine physician can diagnose a patient who has come to the Emergency Department (ED) and quickly admit the patient to the hospital if necessary. This is a tremendous benefit when staff physicians are busy treating other patients, as well as in the middle of the night when patients ordinarily wait while on-call physicians make their way to the hospital.
Besides enhancing quality of care for patients, the program is also enhancing quality of life for the facility’s physicians and staff. Telemedicine reduces the number of nighttime visits local doctors must make to the hospital.
Partnership with a telemedicine pioneer
The telemedicine program is made possible through a partnership between WW Health and Eagle Telemedicine, an Atlanta-based provider that is a pioneer in the field.
“We are delighted to welcome WW Health to our telemedicine program,” said Talbot “Mac” McCormick, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eagle Telemedicine. “We have devoted more than eight years to perfecting our telemedicine models of care, and we appreciate the enthusiasm with which our program has been adopted. It’s another proof point that telemedicine fills a vital need in healthcare today.”
Eagle Telemedicine also offers programs that can connect patients with specialists, such as TeleNeurologists who can diagnose and treat a stroke remotely via telemedicine technology. Other Eagle programs include Tele-Intensivist coverage in the ICU, and TeleCardiologists providing consults to determine whether cardiac patients can be treated onsite and retained.
At WW Health, the focus is on general inpatient care and admission. Leading the Eagle team is Dr. Brian Hunt, a seasoned hospitalist board-certified in Internal Medicine, who provides telemedicine services to hospitals across the U.S. through Eagle Telemedicine. He and other physicians in the Eagle program will work closely with Peter Mudge, Director of Acute Care Services, and other clinical staff as an integral part of the healthcare team.
High marks from patients, families and hospital staff
Eagle’s program receives high marks from patients and their families. Elderly patients, who can sometimes be the most resistant to new technology, usually have no problem with the robot, and they appreciate the focus, quick responsiveness, and uninterrupted attention from the remote physicians. Doctors and other clinical staff like it, too.
“I was one of the biggest skeptics when I first starting hearing about telemedicine,” said Dr. Hunt. “But I learned it can be amazing in what it can do and how it can help take care of folks. It can bring the highest level of specialized care to patients even in the smallest hospitals in the most remote locations in America. And in doing so, it helps hospitals like WW Health avoid transferring patients to distant metropolitan facilities to get the care they need.”
In addition to benefits for patients and their families, being able to keep patients in their hometown hospital offers significant benefits for WW Health. It means maintaining a higher patient census, which goes a long way toward keeping the facility’s financial profile strong.
About Western Wisconsin Health
Western Wisconsin Health is a health and wellness center located just off I-94 in Baldwin, WI. Our facility is designed using sustainable materials and practices with amenities to support holistic health and healing for our clients and guests. We place an extraordinary focus on each individual’s healing experience, and we reflect this in every aspect of our facility and care. For more information, visit wwhealth.org.
Founded in 2008, Eagle Telemedicine was one of the first companies to emerge in the telemedicine physician service arena, and continues to serve as a pioneer in the industry today, offering practical solutions, management tools, and innovation through telemedicine. Eagle currently offers telemedicine programs and solutions in Hospitalist Medicine, Stroke and Acute Neurology, Critical Care, Cardiology, Nephrology, and other specialties. For more information, visit www.eagletelemedicine.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Maggie Cogbill, Director of Community Relations
Western Wisconsin Health
Patrick Sherman, VP Marketing & Business Development
(678) 441-8529; Patrick.Sherman@EGLHP.com