Empowering Patients to Improve Outcomes Through Telehealth

Telehealth is still relatively new to the health care industry. However, OSF HealthCare was an early adopter with the launch of OSF ConstantCare or the eICU in 2012. The eICU allows critical care physicians and nurses in Peoria to communicate with medical personnel across the organization who are taking care of patients with intensive care needs. The idea is to add an extra layer of protection for these vulnerable patients.

OSF has expanded its telehealth capabilities in a number of different ways since then. Patients from smaller communities no longer have to drive to Peoria to seek specialized care; they can now easily receive consultations with neurologists, pediatricians and cardiologists over videoconferencing. Families and individuals can also seek medical help for minor illnesses quickly by using OSF OnCall, 24/7 virtual urgent care service that allows patients to visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner over a smartphone, tablet, or computer without making an appointment.

OSF is now venturing into using telehealth to better engage patients to keep them healthy and out of the emergency room.

Patient Engagement

If you’ve ever gone through surgery or had a certain procedure done, you are familiar with the list of instructions you are expected to follow before admission and after discharge. For example, patients are required to report if they are feeling sick or have a fever prior to surgery, and some must ingest certain liquids before a procedure like a colonoscopy. Those getting discharged might have to take various medications, perform certain exercises or disclose any reactions they might be experiencing.

In many of those cases, there can be a lot to remember. OSF is implementing a new application to make patient education easier. HealthLoop can be utilized via a handheld device, computer or laptop and is designed to engage patients ahead of their admission and following discharge. The technology automatically sends prompts that continuously guide and educate patients before and after a procedure and for the duration of recovery. It tracks progress along the way and also allows patients to easily ask questions and receive prompt responses from their care providers.

OSF recently piloted the application on a smaller scale within OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute. A number of patients have taken advantage of the new tool.

The plan is to expand use of the HealthLoop application to those receiving orthopedic procedures.

Benefits of Empowering Patients Through Telehealth

The utilization of HealthLoop not only ensures patients receive the guidance they need to fully recover from a procedure, the application also gives clinical teams the ability to assess how patients are doing. The application notifies clinicians if patients are experiencing treatment failure or worsening state of health. This allows physicians and nurses to intervene sooner, reducing the need for an emergency room visit.

The overall goal of OSF using HealthLoop is to improve patient outcomes, lower costs and reduce complications by putting patients at the center of their care.