How one organization greatly expanded telehealth

MUSC Health now offers 80 telemedicine services, including virtual monitoring, in its efforts to give patients more options.

This article is part of a CEO leadership series

Telemedicine applications are widely used at MUSC Health, providing a range of services to patients.

Recognizing the power of technology to transform care delivery, senior leaders at Charleston, S.C.-based MUSC Health launched a telehealth program back in 2005 that’s now one of only two national centers of excellence in telehealth.

MUSC Health offers about 80 telehealth services, including school telehealth, hospital-at-home acute care services and tele-mental health, says CEO Patrick Cawley, M.D.

For example, the organization offers virtual monitoring, such as for patients who are delirious or suicidal.

Without telemedicine, such monitoring required one-on-one care. With virtual monitoring, one employee can monitor six to eight patients at once, Cawley says.

Virtual monitoring services can be offered at a nursing home, a senior center or a patient’s home.

“It’s a camera in the room. Some are portable and some are fix-mounted. The camera can zoom in and the monitor can alert a nurse in real time,” Cawley explains. “It has significantly decreased falls and prevented a suicide in a nursing home. It’s digital technology at its best. It’s better care at a much cheaper cost.”

Using another telehealth offering, MUSC’s teleICU program, a physician can remotely monitor ICUs in rural hospitals. Leveraging artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, the physician can send alerts, such as “you’re 12 hours from a code, act now,” says David Cole, M.D., president of MUSC.

“An academic medical center (such as MUSC) needs to provide not only healthcare but also change the future,” he says. “You need the three “I”s: impact, innovation, and influence. For instance, our telestroke program changed the standard of care and set a national standard. That’s impactful.”

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