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New Study Reveals Value of Telemedicine Services in Nighttime Patient Admissions

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SOURCE Eagle Telemedicine

Rural hospitals may especially benefit from effective and efficient nighttime telehospitalist care

ATLANTA, June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Progressive smaller hospitals have begun replacing hospitalist night calls and moonlighter duty with hospitalist telemedicine, typically to avoid physician burn-out and improve recruiting and retention. A new study conducted by researchers from Eagle Telemedicine and the Medical University of South Carolina, and published in the peer-reviewed journal Telemedicine and e-Health (Vol. 20, 2014, DOI #10.1089), finds that telemedicine's economy of scale in care delivery is especially advantageous to rural hospitals, due to those facilities' consistently low numbers of hospital nighttime admissions.

The study, titled "New Hospital Telemedicine Services: Potential Market for a Nighttime Telehospitalist Service," analyzed admissions data from 226 Florida hospitals. It found that of the total number of admissions, common hospitalist nighttime admissions accounted on average for 19 percent of total admission volume. The number of hospitalist nighttime admissions per facility ranged from 0.23 to 10.09 admissions per night, with rural hospitals dominating the lower end of nighttime admission volume.

"Telemedicine's greatest value lies in applications where physician resources are scarce and care issues are time-sensitive, yet volume is low enough to enable a single physician to effectively serve multiple facilities simultaneously," said Richard Sanders, vice president at Eagle Telemedicine and one of the study's four authors. "When we examined the data closely, it became clear that a telemedicine hospitalist solution may be applied for nighttime medical care in rural hospitals in a similar manner as telemedicine physician services in tele-ICU and teleneurology."

The study notes that telemedicine's advantages address a core dilemma for 24/7 hospitalist practices, which typically reduce staff starting at 7:00 p.m. but still incur inflated care expense because of the lower volumes of billable services. Furthermore, inefficiencies in physician staffing ratios have been documented to contribute to a lower quality of care at night than for daytime services in some instances, which the study's authors said is unacceptable.

"The critical shortage of physicians in the United States calls for innovative approaches to the provision of physician services," said Sanders. "Telemedicine is a proven service delivery model for a variety of physician and health services, and this study indicates that the inclusion of telehospitalist solutions in the service mix may be an excellent means to address the dilemma of hospitalist staffing shortages."

The full study is available at no charge at the Telemedicine and e-Health website.

About Eagle Telemedicine

Eagle Telemedicine leverages advanced technology to enable telehospitalist physicians to provide patient care and consult with hospital staff at a moment's notice, from anywhere around the globe. The service provides hospital partners with on-demand access to remote resources for neurology, critical care, hospitalist night coverage and psychiatric care, and is available throughout the U.S. to any acute care facility needing a managed telemedicine physician service solution.

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