Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah-based nonprofit healthcare system operating in seven states, has launched a telehealth program aimed at reducing hospital transfers among pediatric patients and lowering costs.
The new offering is a telehealth video consultation that is available 24/7, where Intermountain hospital emergency department doctors can connect with the Primary Children’s Hospital’s emergency department, trauma and pediatric ICU specialists.
The service aims to keep patients in their local communities whenever possible, reducing unnecessary transfers that are far away. Fewer long-distance transfers would also lower costs to patients and family members, as well as boost patient and provider satisfaction.
“We’ve found that about 80% of pediatric emergency, trauma and ICU patients who’ve been transferred to Primary Children’s are discharged within 24 hours,” Katrina Jensen, a pediatric nurse with Intermountain Healthcare, said in a statement. “During a six-month trial period of this new telehealth pediatric service, about half of those pediatric emergency patients are now able to safely stay in their local communities.”
When patients access the emergency department, doctors who need more information can connect with Primary Children’s specialists for a consultation. From there, doctors can determine if patients can be discharged, if they need follow-up care or if they should be discharged and transferred to another hospital.
The new telehealth service comes as telemedicine has soared in popularity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as individuals aimed to reduce their exposure to the virus. Healthcare providers also temporarily halted certain procedures during the height of the pandemic, incentivizing many to turn to telehealth.