OSF HealthCare helping rural hospitals adopt telehealth solutions

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OSF HealthCare helping rural hospitals adopt telehealth solutions

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | January 15, 2021 Health IT Telemedicine
PEORIA, Ill., Jan. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Implementing safe, secure and easy-to-use telehealth solutions is becoming increasingly important, especially as rural hospitals strive to provide expert care with limited resources. Hospitals face challenges to adopting new technology, but recent collaborative research shows on-site simulation for caregiver training and simple software solutions can ease the transition.

OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, through Jump Simulation, collaborated with Chicago-based Northwestern University on a four-year, $750,000 grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The project created patient simulations that allowed for use of a telehealth cart that provided direct video communication with an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) in Peoria, Illinois to connect rural emergency departments with caregivers treating patients with severe sepsis and septic shock.

Sepsis is a leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals and it is common in patients with severe COVID-19. Dr. Steven Simpson, MD, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine and medical adviser for the Sepsis Alliance, said in a recent Healthleaders.com article, "For COVID-19 patients who require ICU care, by definition, nearly all of them have sepsis. And we know the mortality rate for COVID-19 patients in ICUs is in the range of 30%-40%."

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Kim Cooley, RN, and the research coordinator, said sepsis is the body's extreme response to infection that can lead to severe complications without timely treatment. So patients need to be intensely monitored.

"They can appear ok or not as severe when they enter emergency rooms and then go downhill really fast and if you don't initiate certain treatments within certain time frames after they start to go downhill, then they could die. So, this is a really important area that OSF is focused on," said Cooley.

Northwestern chose to partner with OSF HealthCare and Jump due to the system's simulation strengths, access to rural emergency departments, and a strong track record of telehealth, particularly use of its eICU. OSF HealthCare hospitals in Pontiac and Galesburg were the research sites.

William Bond, MD, an emergency department physician and director of research at Jump Simulation, says the study looked at expanded use of remote monitoring for rural emergency departments which have small staffs that can easily be overwhelmed if they have multiple severely ill patients. With sepsis patients, the research introduced remote monitoring earlier.

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