Telehealth helps Arkansas meet healthcare challenges

With 73 of 75 counties in Arkansas designated as medically underserved, access to health services remains one of the major challenges in the state, according to David Miller, vice chancellor and CIO for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Telehealth is one way his organization is tackling that challenge, Miller said in an interview at iHT2.

It offers pregnancy and neonatal telehealth services, a telestroke program, and telemedicine services in psychiatry, pediatrics, geriatrics, rehab medicine, cardiology, internal medicine, burn, trauma and genetic counseling.

Miller will address lessons learned about telehealth on one of two panel discussions in which he will participate at the upcoming iHT2 Health IT Summit in Austin, Texas, in December.

When asked to name the top challenges for hospitals in the next five to 10 years, Miller included:

  • Bending the cost curve
  • Increasing quality
  • Enhancing patient safety
  • Improving outcomes

He says those are possible only if hospitals:

  • Find ways to exchange patient data in real-time across multiple disparate organizations
  • Find ways to coordinate population health to respond to new payment models
  • Change treatment approaches to a team-based, patient- and family-centric delivery model

The federal IT mandates health organizations face will be difficult even for even "well-resourced" health institutions, John Halamka, CIO at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, wrote recently.  He says the timelines are to short for Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation, ICD-10 implementation, HIPAA Omnibus Rule readiness and Affordable Care Act implementation. He's suggesting a series of deadline extensions and pilot tests.

Halamka previously wrote that hospital CIOs' priority for 2014 will have to be "institutional survival" and that many departmental needs will go unmet while ICD-10 consumes the lion's share of resources.

The debacle illustrated how IT projects can go very, very wrong, prompting FierceHealthIT's Dan Bowman to warn organizations not to let ICD-10 be déjà vu all over again.

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