Telehospice providing comfort in rural Kansas

One need look no further than the windshield of a hospice nurse to understand why telehealth is a good fit for hospice. From mud to snow, traveling through rural Kansas can be a challenge, one which determined nurses traverse daily to ensure they can be with their patients in their hour of need. Those trips are still necessary, but telehospice can help augment those home visits so nurses can decrease their windshield time and maximize their patient interaction time.
This month at the Kansas Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Summer Meeting, Eve-Lynn Nelson, Ph.D., and Karin Porter-Williamson, M.D., presented on telehospice and palliative care outreach. In addition to the decreased travel time for nurses and increased responsiveness to patient needs, Nelson revealed other benefits of telehealth linkages for patients:
  • Social workers and spiritual advisors can be linked to patients in their homes.
  • Family members can help from a distance with hospital admission processes or medication reconciliation.
  • Clinicians can guide caregivers through processes such as changing wound dressing.
  • In some cases, telehospice can even connect patients to loved ones to say their final goodbyes.

Under Dr. Gary Doolittle’s leadership, the University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth established one of the first telehospice programs in the country in 1998. Those years of experience have been leveraged to update the telehealth program, now dubbed Telehospice 2.0. Stay tuned for an article profiling Telehealth 2.0 in an upcoming HTRC newsletter.

Additional credits and resources:
Thanks to Hospice Services, Inc. Executive Director Sandy Kuhlman, R.N., and Medical Director Joe Barnes, M.D. for their contribution to the presentation and to the national presenter, Judi Lund Person, MPH, CHC, VP of Regulatory and Compliance at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.


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