Banner Health implements three telemedicine programs, plans for more

Banner Health in Phoenix has one more site left--in Fairbanks, Alaska--before its telemedicine program is available systemwide.

The health system has been building its telemedicine program, which covers 430 ICU beds, for more than 10 years, according to an article at Becker's Health IT and CIO Review. The program launched in 2006 with the implementation of eICU, a tele-ICU solution.

Through eICU, video cameras are hooked up in all ICU rooms and stream feed to a Banner Health offsite monitoring center, according to the article. The video feed allows tele-intensivisits to monitor patients at all times and alert on-site caregivers to possible problems.

The system has been beneficial to Banner Health in improving patient outcomes, according to the article. Close to 2,000 lives were saved in 2013, the health system tells Becker's.

Banner Health also has a new at-home telemedicine program--the Intensive Ambulatory Care program. The program uses at-home monitoring tools such as blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and tablets to participate in video consults with caregivers. Officials also are looking into bringing telemedicine into the system's skilled nursing facilities and emergency departments, according to the article.

Use of telehealth systems is growing nationwide. In late September, more than 100 communities in 42 states were awarded grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration to support care in rural areas, including funding to grow resources for telehealth solutions and help communities build networks of care.

However, barriers remain when it comes to the technology. During a recent panel discussion by the U.S. Senate Special Commission on Aging, issues surrounding coverage and reimbursement of telehealth were the hot topic. 

In addition, Banner Health, among other organizations, signed a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services slamming reimbursement legislation that impacts accountable care organizations when it comes to telehealth and remote patient monitoring technologies.

To learn more:
- read the Becker's article

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