Health reform has given us a lot of buzzwords like “accountable care” and the warm-and-fuzzy “medical home.” They try to capture the essence of where reform is taking us: to a patient-centered system where collaborative care provides higher quality, better outcomes and lower costs. By tearing down silos and eliminating redundant tests, everybody wins.
That’s the grand vision anyway. But many healthcare organizations are having a tough time making the transition to this new approach.
To see how collaborative care is supposed to work, just look at the new telestroke program at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute and University Hospital. This teaching facility has long been in the top 25 of America’s academic medical centers – and the UC Stroke Team was started way back in 1987.
The new telestroke program is powered by ITH’s Remote Presence technology, connecting UC stroke specialists with physicians at UC Health’s West Chester Hospital and Dearborn County Hospital (just across the state line in Lawrenceburg, Indiana).
Here’s how the telestroke program meets the “triple aim” of health reform:
Higher quality care – Patients are quickly examined by a stroke specialist who can see and hear them right at the bedside.
Better outcomes – The program will save more lives – and provide higher quality of life – thanks to faster intervention and greater teamwork.
Lower costs – With Remote Presence, only the most severe stroke cases need to be transported to expensive tertiary centers – and many more patients can remain in facilities close to home.
“This is an important advance for us, and more importantly, for our patients,” says Dr. Opeolu Adeoye, director of the UC telestroke program. “This will allow them to stay closer to home at partner hospitals while still receiving the most advanced care available.”
Those words are almost like a mission statement for health reform. In the old paradigm, there would have been a number of time-squandering steps: local triage, transport to a stroke center, repeat diagnoses. But with telemedicine, the ED doctor, specialist and patient are all communicating in real-time.
Telemedicine is helping providers reach consensus in minutes, not hours. That’s what industry pundits call “collaborative care” – and what stroke survivors call a “miracle.”