Telemedicine enables faster medical decision-making, such as where a patient should receive treatment. “If a patient can stay local, every attempt is made for this to occur,” said Donald J. Kosiak Jr., MD, MBA, FACEP, eCARE executive medical director and emergency medicine physician of telemedicine provider Avera Health, Sioux Falls, SD. “If a patient needs to be transferred, he or she can be rapidly stabilized and transported under the direction of an experienced physician-led critical care team.”
Avoiding a transfer results in significant cost savings. According to Dr. Kosiak, by using Avera Health’s telemedicine services, more than 12,500 transfers have been arranged and more than 1,250 transfers have been avoided. He said that 16.8 percent of all video calls result in an avoided transfer, resulting in an estimated $9.2 million in savings.
Mark McLean, MD, FACEP, emergency department medical director, Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia, Tenn, and medical director of TeleHealth for TeamHealth, can attest to the value of avoiding transfers. “Since my facility doesn’t provide 24-7 neurology coverage, telemedicine enables us to provide patients with real-time consults, which can eliminate unneeded transfers,” he said. “Patients typically prefer to stay at their community hospital rather than being transferred.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.