Statewide Telehealth Advancements

Image of wall with monitor and telehealth  medicine on a cart.

Ensuring Care Where They Are

By leading the development of new telehealth services while also enhancing existing ones, the Center for Telehealth is ensuring that health care expertise is being extended beyond the walls of MUSC Health. Telehealth is delivering to multiple sites including community hospitals, outpatient clinical settings, schools, correctional facilities and directly to patients. “Through our partnerships at connected sites, we are able to make sure patients are receiving care where they are. This is at the heart of what telehealth is about,” said Jimmy McElligott, M.D., MSCR, Executive Medical Director for Telehealth. For hospital-based programs, keeping patients local is a driving principle. MUSC Health specialists are treating patients remotely for neurological conditions, palliative care, infectious diseases, mental illness and adult and pediatric critical care. “Being part of this telehealth community and caring for folks where they are more comfortable is very gratifying. In our first 6 months, we provided more than 100 consults. We plan to continue our growth to include antimicrobial stewardship and infection control consultation as well,” added Amanda Parks, M.D.

In addition to standard telehealth consultations, specialists are monitoring intensive care patients in the Tele-ICU program, and patients that are at risk for falls or injuries are in the continuous virtual monitoring (CVM) program. MUSC Health added new telehealth services at more than a dozen South Carolina hospitals this year.

Specialists are connecting across the state and delivering care for high risk pregnancies, diabetes, obesity, mental health, stroke, epilepsy, neuro-psychiatry, movement disorders, ALS, aneurysm and solid organ transplant. The Center recently connected psychiatrists to Clemson University where students are now receiving mental health care in the campus clinic. The Center’s school-based health program continues to be a national model. MUSC partners with local community providers to deliver urgent, primary and chronic care management in the local school nurse’s office. MUSC Health’s school-based telehealth program recently demonstrated a 21% reduction in emergency department visits for pediatric asthmatic patients. Direct-to-patient (DTP) virtual urgent care is a growing program. This convenient service offers high-quality care anywhere using a patient’s mobile device. The typical wait time is less than 5 minutes, and the service has a 95% patient satisfaction rate.

Other DTP services include pre-op and follow-up consultations directly with specialists including bariatric and skull base surgery. Mobile applications allow specialists to monitor patients with diabetes, heart valve replacements, burns, asthma and trauma recovery.

The Center for Telehealth serves as the headquarters for the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance and received, along with its statewide partners, the President’s Award for the Transformation of Healthcare Delivery from the American Telemedicine Association. The Center is also one of two federally designation National Telehealth Centers of Excellence, making it a clearinghouse for telehealth as it innovates telehealth best practices. To date this year, the Center has conducted 283,706 interactions, a 27% increase compared to this time in 2018.