Connected Health Care
Local Ascension facilities serving communities
Before telemedicine, when stroke patients in the emergency departments at Ascension Saint Thomas DeKalb or Ascension Saint Thomas Stones River needed more specialized care, they had to transfer to a larger Ascension facility in the Nashville area.
Now, specialists in Nashville can guide these patients’ treatment with a virtual consultation, and patients can receive medical attention in a more efficient manner. This is just one of the ways Ascension health care system takes advantage of technology using fast, reliable internet.
Now, ER physicians at the local Ascension facilities use specialized telemedicine equipment designed specifically for lifesaving procedures in stroke cases within the recommended critical timeframe.
“Having access to perse carriers to allow reliable and scalable connectivity to electronic medical records certainly can improve patient outcomes,” says Ryan Hayes, Manager of Solutions Architecture for Ascension Technologies.
Access to more health care options through telemedicine is a game-changer for those living in rural areas like Smithville, Woodbury or surrounding communities, says Raymond Johnson, CEO. “We want those in rural areas to have the same access to a high level of health care as those living in larger cities,” he says.
Saint Thomas Stones River and Saint Thomas DeKalb are members of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system. The health system has a 125-year history in Tennessee, and now operates 11 hospital campuses in the state, in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities in a 45-county area.
The Ascension Saint Thomas DeKalb and Ascension Saint Thomas Stones River locations, which both have fiber internet and utilize DTC Communications, have the same standardized computer system and equipment as all other Tennessee Ascension locations. This setup makes for a safer patient experience, Johnson says. “ An employee at one facility can fill in at another without adapting to different equipment or procedures,” he says. “It allows us to have a seamless operational experience while delivering services that are better for our patients.”
Improvements in electronic medical records technology connect each of the Ascension locations, allowing doctors to easily access scans, bloodwork and other test results in patients’ records.
Previously, when a doctor sent a patient to a specialist in a larger city, they would have faxed or emailed records. Now, with immediate access to all records, the specialist might make a recommendation for treatment by looking at the information and conferring with local physicians. And this process can happen more quickly. “That’s another way to save time for those patients and make it more convenient for them,” Johnson says.
An online portal also provides patients with their health information, options for appointment reminders, online bill pay and other services. Visitors and patients at the hospitals also have access to Wi-Fi through the facilities’ high-speed internet, making it easier to keep them connected. “From electronic medical records to telemedicine, technology helps provide state-of-the-art patient care in our rural area,” Johnson says. “It’s making a huge difference in the lives of our patients.”
Patients in rural areas can also benefit from some of Ascension Saint Thomas’s programs and services. Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro now has its first medical helicopter, which operates 24 hours, seven days a week to serve Rutherford County residents and patients in surrounding counties.
Hospital Care at Home
Ascension’s Hospital Care at Home is a care option that allows patients to safely receive treatment for a medical condition at home. The program typically lasts 30 days to ensure a patient is recovering appropriately.
A patient can choose Hospital Care At Home instead of being admitted to the hospital for inpatient treatment of conditions like asthma, congestive heart failure, pneumonia and urinary tract infections after receiving treatment in the emergency department.
Each patient will have a registered nurse assigned to them to provide in-home care under a doctor’s oversight. Providers will have necessary equipment, such as an IV, oxygen and pulse oximeter. There’s also a computer tablet, which allows the patient to see and talk to the doctor virtually from home and communicate with the care team.
Content provided with permission from DTC.