Earlier this year, Avera Health announced that its telehealth services are now in 10 percent of all critical access hospitals across the United States. The health system’s subsidiary, eCare, provides e-consultation to several sites, many of them far from its Sioux Falls, S.D., base.
Critical access hospitals are defined as hospitals with no more than 25 beds and located in a rural area at least 35 miles away from any other hospital. eCare provides emergency e-consultation to 125 sites and serves 80 clients for e-pharmacy, a number soon expected to grow to 100 based on signed contracts. The system provides services to 130 intensive care unit partners, a number that its leaders say quickly could double.
Jim Veline, senior vice president and chief information officer of Avera Health, says telehealth breaks down physical barriers to provide integrated care in small, rural hospitals that otherwise would not have the means to provide such care.
“The operation has been very successful at capitalizing on synergy,” Veline says. “All of the clinical personnel are essentially within spitting distance of one another. If a doctor needs a pharmacist or a pharmacist needs a doctor or either one of them needs a geriatrician, they can access one another. Capitalizing on that multidisciplinary environment is critical.”
The system’s leadership in telehealth is one of many reasons it made this year’s Most Wired list. Read the full Most Wired report from our sister magazine, Hospitals & Health Networks, for more information.