Telemedicine Bridges the Gap During Social Distancing

By arhospice on June 16th, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across our lives and our land, perhaps no group has been impacted more than residents of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and rehabilitation centers. Many of these institutions have had no choice but to enact social distancing policies that have not only kept patients and residents separated from visitors and families, but also from face-to-face visits with their hospice and palliative care providers.

Faced with these limitations, Arkansas Hospice has introduced a new telemedicine program as a means to continue and supplement care between patients their healthcare provider, plus stay connected to their families. Thanks in part to your gifts, and a grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, the telemedicine program was launched on a fast-track from funding to delivery in the midst of the pandemic.

Seniors can stay connected to their families

Tablets with video cameras and built-in cellular connectivity are provided by Arkansas Hospice to partner facilities and institutions to be used as the primary communications tool for the telemedicine program. Anita Deal, Arkansas Hospice Senior Director of Clinical Services, said “Having a tablet in the hands of a patient enables our clinical team to closely monitor and communicate with them significantly more so than a phone call. Cognitive ability, facial expressions, response and visual appearance are able to be seen and factored into care.”

Not only is the visual communication beneficial to the healthcare professional, it adds a level of confidence and assurance to the patient as well. The relationships that have been built between a patient and their nurses, doctor, chaplain, social worker, and other members of the clinical team can continue through the visual communication the tablets enable.

Mark Holbert, Arkansas Hospice Director of Information Technology, said there is more to the technology behind the program than meets the eye. “Tablets in and of themselves today are relatively affordable and available, however, there is a whole back-end of technology that is required for medical use. HIPAA compliant hardware, platforms, and infrastructure must also be in place.” Holbert said that once the back-end systems and tablets are in place, there are still continuing costs. “So many of our patients are in facilities and their homes where they do not have Internet access. This being the case, we must utilize tablets that have 4G and cellular capability. While this does increase the cost of each tablet, the real expense is the continual data charges incurred with using cellular data for long periods of video communication.”

Healthcare providers can continue and supplement care for their patients

With your gift given through the Arkansas Hospice Foundation, more patients can benefit from telehealth in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through your generosity, the expense of these tablets and their continued data charges can be offset to expand telemedicine beyond COVID-19 related needs to impoverished and rural areas where many patients do not have an Internet connection in their home.

CLICK HERE to keep a distant patient connected with their doctor, nurses, and family.

14 Parkstone Circle | North Little Rock, AR 72116
(501) 748-3333 or Toll Free (877) 713-2348
Arkanas Hospice Arkanas Hospice Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 71-0846826