The Numbers Are Convincing

August 4, 2014 by By InTouch Health

Bryan Coffey, CEO of Hamilton County Hospital in Syracuse, Kansas, recently had a guest commentary in Modern Healthcare outlining the many benefits of remote presence technology in the rural hospital setting.

This Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is located in a rural stretch of Kansas that’s a one-hour drive to the nearest Walmart store. Yet they’re using an RP-Lite to perform some amazing things like:

  • Telestroke consultations in partnership with hospitals in Denver and Wichita
  • Remote access to specialists in pediatrics, obstetrics and dermatology so patients don’t have to drive eight hours each way to see a specialist

Since acquiring the robot, the hospital’s volumes have increased 30 percent over the previous year – and Medicare outpatient reimbursement has increased by 16 percent.

In the article, Coffey notes that any critical access facility can afford remote presence because of Medicare’s cost-based reimbursement. In his estimation, if a CAH has just one patient per month remain in the hospital versus getting shipped out to a larger facility, the hospital has more than paid for the robot that month.

Coffey has written a case study that provides a complete analysis of how a CAH can cost-justify both a telemedicine robot and contracts with telemedicine providers. It’s a great resource for CFOs at small hospitals, going line by line through things like Rural Health Clinic cost reports.

When Coffey first weighed the telemedicine option, he ran the numbers by some experts at two of the top healthcare audit firms. They took a close look and agreed: telemedicine is a solution that makes financial sense for any critical access facility in the nation.