How Children’s Health Keeps Rural Patients Close to Home

From D Magazine:

An innovative partnership between Children’s Health and rural hospitals throughout Texas is keeping patients at home and delivering expertise to rural providers to keep hospitals in business and patients close to home via their virtual care program.

The program has been aided by legislation. In 2017, HB 1697 created $5 billion worth of resources to create pediatric telehealth resource program that would award grants to connect rural facilities with pediatric specialists via telemedicine. The grants can be used to purchase equipment or upgrade technology services to facilitate the delivery of the telemedicine.

One of Children’s Health’s first telehealth partnerships was with Childress Regional Medical Center in West Texas, where Henderson was the CEO at the time. The hospital was one of the largest employers in the area, but it was difficult to keep specialists onsite. Many were driving at least 100 miles from Lubbock to see patients in Childress.

After discussions between Henderson and Children’s Health, they decided to go ahead and provide NICU services via telemedicine. Unlike traditional medicine, most of the contact between Children’s Health and their rural partners are physician to physician consults, meaning Children’s Health docs are not becoming the physician of record, but instead providing guidance and confidence to the local physicians so that they can properly treat the newborn.

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