Legislators Heaton and Cownie View Technology Firsthand
Iowa Specialty Hospital has partnered with University of Iowa Health Care to launch a Virtual Hospitalist Service within its inpatient and emergency departments. The service provides access to hospitalists at UI Hospitals and Clinics via a secure telemedicine connection between both hospitals. The program aims to support local providers, enhance inpatient care, and keep patients in their local hospital.
Iowa Specialty Hospital providers and nurses collaborate with a UI hospitalist - a physician focused on inpatient care - in Iowa City through secure video conferencing and a shared electronic health record. Together, the team provides specialty care for patients in the emergency department and inpatient units at Iowa Specialty Hospital, through twice-daily virtual rounding and virtual consults.
Recently Iowa Legislators, David Heaton and Peter Cownie, visited Iowa Specialty Hospital to witness new program firsthand. Both representatives were able to witness several patient daily roundings to see how Iowa Specialty Hospital providers and their patients visit with the UI hospitalist for the patients’ daily care plan.
“Their visit is important to Iowa Specialty Hospital, and Iowa healthcare overall,” stated Cindy Hunter, Chief Quality Officer. “Representatives Heaton and Cownie are working to pass legislation that would help pay for this specialized service. If that happens, this technology could become standard in other areas of healthcare, saving patients time and money, while providing convenience and quality healthcare.”
With an Iowa Specialty Hospital provider at their side, inpatients use secure video conferencing to communicate with the UI hospitalist daily via computer tablets. In the emergency department, where care is especially time sensitive, having the expertise of UI specialists allows for real-time collaboration and decision making.
Additionally, more medically complex patients are now able to stay in their local communities versus transferring to the University of Iowa for care. Keeping patients closer to home enables families to better support their loved one while in the hospital, reduces travel time, and improves continuity of care. When a patient transfer is necessary, the process ensures that the patient experiences a smooth transition from Iowa Specialty Hospital to UI Hospitals and Clinics. The patient sees the UI hospitalist in person that they saw on the computer.
Offered recent patient, Joy Tillman, “At first, I was hesitant about the technology, but became very comfortable with it. It doesn’t feel any different than having a doctor in the room. The doctor answered my questions and any questions my family had. He visited with me every day, asked questions, and gave good answers so I knew the status of my health. My family was really well informed also. I think the service is a good idea.”
“From the very first presentation we attended, we have been excited about the potential of the University of Iowa’s Virtual Hospitalist Program. The idea of keeping care local, decreasing transfers, having the expertise of multiple medical specialties, and the educational benefits are really what sold us on the program. Due to the leadership and vision of Drs. Kevin Glenn and Ethan Kuperman, as well as Kate Klefstad, MHA, we have successfully implemented the program here at Iowa Specialty Hospitals in Clarion and Belmond. There has been a learning curve, of course, and a few bumps along the way (mostly having to do with educating staff and patients) yet physicians, staff, administration and, most importantly, patients are extremely pleased with the program and collaboration with University of Iowa. It’s great to be rural hospitals, and yet be on the cutting edge of the future of medicine!” added Chief Medical Officer, Michael Hurt, MD.
The UI Health Care Virtual Hospitalist Service went live November 15, 2016. As of July 2017, Iowa Specialty Hospital became the second hospital in rural Iowa to launch the UI Health Care Virtual Hospitalist Service within its facilities.