by Lauren Dubinsky
, Senior Reporter | February 19, 2018
Penn Medicine opened a new center this month in Philadelphia to consolidate the health system’s telemedicine offerings.
“Penn Medicine was an early adopter and has strategically invested in telemedicine where it can improve patient care, improve patient satisfaction, improve provider efficiency or support entirely new ways of delivering care,” Dr. C. William Hanson, III, chief medical information officer at Penn Medicine, told HCB News. “These initiatives are invariably aligned with our broader strategic initiatives as the health system grows and engages in value-oriented care.”
The Penn Medicine Center for Connected Care staffs 50 full-time employees that provide 24-hour support. It’s the largest telehealth center in the Philadelphia region and among the largest in the country.
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The center’s offerings include the Penn E-lert eICU tele-homecare service for chronically ill patients, a service that connects obstetricians with trauma surgeons caring for critically injured pregnant women and a tele-urgent care service that may eliminate the need for physician visits in certain cases.
The health system also provides a growing range of telemedicine specialty services at a regional, national and international level. Those include transplant services, dermatology, ophthalmology, radiology, adolescent and young adult medicine, sleep medicine and complex neurological conditions as well as hematology oncology consultations and veteran mental health services.
The new center also operates the Home Telehealth program that remotely monitors over 160 patients each month in their homes. This approach involves a combination of wireless devices that track vital signs and a new value-based reimbursement model.
That program has already reduced hospital readmissions by 35 percent among the medically-complex patient population.
“We’ve actively solicited feedback and our patients have been quick to adapt to telemedical encounters and very positive about the degree to which Penn’s telemedical solutions replace traditional encounters,” said Hanson. “They recognize that, whether it’s in their home or in the intensive care unit, telemedicine is a new way to improve their care.”