What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a general term that encompasses the electronic exchange of health information from one site to another in an effort to improve patient outcomes. There are two types of telehealth. Store and Forward (SOF) involves the transmission of still images (x-rays, photographs, etc.) from provider to provider using secure electronic communication methods; and Live Video-Interactive (LVI) which involves the use of live video communication methods that facilitate a real-time interaction between a provider and a patient that are located at different sites. This type of interaction also allows providers to transmit live heart tones, breath sounds, and other patient assessment data while communicating to the patient.
To advance rural health through education, innovation, and collaboration.
1992 – The Midwest Center for Rural Health was created to address a shortage of primary care physicians in rural areas surrounding Union Hospital. The center was charged with implementing a Rural Training Track (RTT) as a part of the Union Hospital Family Medicine Residency program. This entity eventually became known as the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health (Lugar Center). The mission of the Lugar Center is advancing rural health through education, innovation, and collaboration.
1999- The Lugar Center developed RuralConsult.com™ in response to the high rates of chronic disease and a greater need for improved access to specialty care in rural areas. RuralConsult.com™ is a store-and-forward, internet-based application that offers generalist providers an opportunity to consult with a specialist provider in an on-line format. It provides rural physicians with connectivity and access to specialty care for their rural populations. Since the inception of RuralConsult.com™, the Lugar Center's capabilities related to telemedicine have been further expanded in recent years to include real-time consultations via video conferencing.
2007 - Telemental health was piloted at Union Hospital Clinton. Through this program, patients could receive a live, real-time consultation via video with providers at Hamilton Center, Inc. on a 24/7 basis. The telemental health program later expanded to all Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the Wabash Valley.
2009 - In collaboration with providers at Union Associated Physicians Clinic (UAP Clinic) and Providence Medical Group (PMG) the telecardiology program was first launched . This program allowed for a real-time consultation between a cardiologist and low-risk cardiology patients receiving care at Union Hospital Clinton. The live consult gave the cardiologist the ability to see the patient, listen to their heart tones and breath sounds, and provide treatment recommendations from a remote location. It was found to improve patient care outcomes, save time and money for patients, and reduce travel time for the specialists. Telecardiology has since been expanded to Sullivan County Community Hospital, St. Vincent's Clay Hospital and the Vermillion-Parke Community Health Center.
2010 - An investment was made in new equipment to update the program and ensure sustainability of the network. In addition, Union Hospital's Lugar Center received a $640,000 grant from HRSA to formalize and subsidize what had come to be known as the Wabash Valley Rural Telehealth Network.
2011 - Telepulmonology and telenephrology were added to the extensive list of specialties offered by the Wabash Rural Telehealth Network.
2012 - A continuing medical education platform was piloted to offer continuing education opportunities for rural providers to attend medical education conferences at Union Hospital. This program assisted rural providers in overcoming the geographic and time-sensitive barriers associated with attending these programs on the main hospital campus. An innovative pre-hospital EKG transmission program was also piloted in Parke and Vermillion Counties in Indiana to improve on the field recognition of heart attack patients in need of time-sensitive care and treatment.
2013 - A Tele-Occupational Health program was piloted at Taghleef Industries located in rural Vigo County, Indiana in an effort to reduce the incidence of emergency department visits for employees injured on the job. This program provides an immediate connection to the Medical Director at Union Hospital's Center for Occupational Health to assist in the evaluation and disposition plan for employees post-workforce injury.
2014 - Union Hospital's Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health applied for and received HRSA Evidence Based TeleEmergency Network Grant Program funding to generate a significant number of encounters to inform a broad-scale study analyzing the efficacy and efficiency of telemedicine in the emergency care environment. The three main areas of interest are teleneurology, teletrauma care, and telebehavioral health. The grant award is for nearly $1.2 million over three years.
“Telemedicine has allowed our patients to receive the care they need right here in Sullivan, IN. In our current challenging economic times, the more dollars we are able to retain locally the better off our community will be.”
- Michelle Franklin, CEO