HTRC and a happy patient usher in telehealth in Kansas CAH

Minneola District Hospital in Minneola, Kan. is embracing change under the leadership of CEO Debbie Bruner, and after their first telehealth patient to receive outpatient services “raved about how wonderful it was,” they are increasingly sure they’re headed in the right direction.

When a patient requested telehealth two years ago, it was a different story. The hospital had limited space and the staff was still a little unsure about the technology. But just as necessity is the mother of invention, psych evals are the mother of telehealth initiation. The shortage of mental health professionals and commensurate difficulty finding timely, inpatient emergency evaluations inspired the hospital to try telehealth technology, though they were not billing for it at the time.

After a second request for telehealth from the mother of a child who had been referred to a physician at the University of Kansas, Bruner decided it was time to look at a strategic telehealth plan. HTRC Project Director Janine Gracy was called in to assist with Minneola’s plans to start using, and billing for telehealth.

“[Gracy] explained how the process would work, step-by-step and what that needed to look like to make sure it was the best benefit for our patients,” said Bruner.

In addition to a site visit to walk her through technical aspects like room lay-out and lighting, Gracy connected Bruner with another critical access hospital in the area to further advise, and help her gain comfort with the billing process.

Bruner said the collaborative, team-based care approach of the specialist on the first consult was a welcome surprise. The psychiatrist recommended medication changes, but the patient stayed in the hands of the primary care physician, who then coordinated the care without feeling like the patient had disappeared into a black hole.

The hospital is now exploring ways to expand their telehealth services. Meanwhile, the hospital is renovating to expand their outpatient facility, more than doubling their current number of exam rooms and expanding their capacity for telehealth.

For information about how your hospital can benefit from an HTRC consult, call us at 877-643-HTRC. Most of HTRC’s services are free.

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