When rural hospitals implement telemedicine, they typically have one, possibly two, service lines. CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs has five.

Traditionally, rural hospitals must transfer patients with complex care needs to a larger hospital because of the difficulties in recruiting and retaining specialists such as cardiologists, infectious disease specialists, and neurologists, but through telemedicine, Sulphur Springs has expanded its ability to care for clinically complex patients without sending them to a larger hospital almost 100 miles away.

CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs, located in rural East Texas, quickly recognized the value of having specialty care closer to home for their patients after it introduced teleCritical Care with Access TeleCare in 2013. This comprehensive ICU telemedicine program benefited not only patients but the hospital’s primary care physicians who were working long hours in both the outpatient clinic and the hospital ICU.

Expanding Telemedicine Service Lines

After seeing how telemedicine could expand its services and integrate with on-site teams, the hospital decided to add a second Access TeleCare service line — teleNeurology. In the past, the hospital had to transfer all its stroke patients to another facility, but the addition of a teleNeurology program allowed it to retain and care for those patients.

Since then, the hospital has added three additional telemedicine service lines: teleNephrology, teleInfectious disease, and teleHospitalist services. These telemedicine service lines give the hospital 24/7 access to a variety of specialists and the ability to treat clinically complex patients without transferring them to a larger hospital.

“We’ve really had overwhelming support from the community,” said Anitha Sanderson, RN, chief nursing officer, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs.

The support from the community and Access TeleCare’s commitment to partnering with client hospitals and to seamless on-site integration allowed CHRISTUS Mother Frances – Sulphur Springs to broaden its telemedicine services to better serve patients.

“Were it not for our ability to use telemedicine, we would not be able to take care of near the number of patients here, and that would greatly increase the number of patients that we would have to transfer out,” said Martin Fielder, M.D., chief medical officer, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs.

The CEO, Paul Harvey, sums it up this way. “This hospital is willing to go beyond traditional rural care.” Read more about Access TeleCare’s partnership with CHRISTUS Mother Frances – Sulphur Springs

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