Does your hospital have GI on demand? Night-shift GI coverage? Esophageal disorders, gastrointestinal bleeding, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, H. pylori and other infections are all very common among today’s patients — and require a GI specialist’s care.
A small community hospital might not have a GI specialist on board to handle acute cases, and yet, transferring these patients to a tertiary center can be very risky — for the patient and the medical staff involved in transfer. Patient transfers have become a major cause of medical workplace injuries, with a very real impact on a hospital’s finances and resources, according to an OSHA report.
Increasingly, small hospitals are looking to hire telemedicine physicians to provide this highly specialized patient care to their communities. These specialists can provide timely, expert patient care, day or night, at a reasonable cost — while improving the hospital’s bottom line.
4 Reasons GI on Demand Benefits Hospitals:
#1 – Avoid high salaries, recruitment costs, by retaining physicians
It’s no secret, this country is facing a physician shortage — including GI specialists:
- Nearly 45% of gastroenterologists are age 55 or older, and heading into retirement.
- 12 states have 3.26 or fewer gastroenterologists per 100,000 people
- 198 counties in Texas have no gastroenterologist
- 24 counties in South Carolina do not have a gastroenterologist – 52% of the counties in the state
Gastroenterologists are ranked #3 on the “Most In-demand Physicians” list, and draw an average annual salary of $487,000. (Only invasive cardiologists, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons have higher salaries).
And yet, GI specialists generate more net revenue for hospitals than general surgeons, internal medicine physicians and oncologists, on average. A 2019 survey showed they generate $2,965,277 annually, on average, for their affiliated hospitals.
Many small community hospitals can’t afford to recruit and retain a GI specialist. Even if a community has a full-time GI physician with daytime clinic hours, it’s too much to ask them for on-call telemedicine for night coverage and weekends. Today’s physicians want work-life balance, and will pursue other opportunities rather than face a night-call schedule, long-term.
With virtual telehealth services, hospitals can retain their valued GI specialist, and minimize turnover, by offering a better schedule. A GI on demand using telemedicine provides small hospitals with high-level expertise, without paying a high salary.
Hospitals typically find that the increased revenue from treating patients on-site pays for the Eagle Tele-GI services.
Telehealth vs Telemedicine: Does the Difference Matter?
Telehealth vs Telemedicine: You’ve probably seen and heard the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” used interchangeably these days, both online and in conversation. It doesn’t matter whether the source is a physician or other healthcare professional or Jane or John Doe. The line between these terms is blurring.
Nonetheless, there is a distinction. Telemedicine is a form of telehealth, not the other way around.
#2 – Prevent adverse outcomes that lead to errors and malpractice claims
Research shows that, with our aging population, hospital patients tend to have multiple comorbidities that require input from gastroenterologists and other specialists. If GI specialists are not quickly available, there is delay in getting treatment — which leads to extended hospital stays and readmissions, and increased risk of nosocomial infections.
In one recent study, in-patients who developed upper GI bleeding during their hospitalization had a significantly higher mortality rate at 6 weeks. Re-bleeding, comorbidities, severity of bleeding and simply being an “inpatient” were the risk factors researchers identified, as published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal.
What can be done? Reducing treatment delays can reduce these risks, but there’s another potential factor. Night-shift staff are often reluctant to phone an on-call clinician at 2 a.m., asking a question about patient care. Without that call, they risk mistakes and delays, which can negatively impact GI patients’ outcomes. Along with higher mortality risk, all these factors and delays can result in costly malpractice suits.
The solution: When an Eagle GI on demand specialist is on call, there is a qualified doctor available, at a moment’s notice, ready to answer questions, examine patients, make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Patients get the skilled medical care they need, in a timely manner, avoiding complications caused by delays.
As witnessed during the pandemic, telemedicine will have an ongoing impact on hospital patient care. “We don’t see telehealth services going away,” an industry report states.
#3 – Keep on-site GIs working on billable procedures
When a hospital GI specialist is focused on providing billable procedures, the revenue stream benefits. Hospitals need that dedicated gastroenterology telemedicine services to avoid risky delays, a study in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found.
The study reported that GI patients whose endoscopies were delayed were more likely to be hospitalized two days longer, and readmitted within a month. The most commonly reported causes for endoscopy delay were poor bowel preparation, lack of endoscopic unit availability and lack of personnel, researchers found.
When telemedicine is used to diagnose GI problems — and onsite GIs focus on performing billable procedures like endoscopies — patient care is expedited, reducing delays and complications. This tandem approach benefits the hospital’s profitability, avoids costly mistakes (and lawsuits), and improves patient care.
How do patients typically react to telemedicine treatment?
#4 – Support postoperative follow-up with scheduled telemedicine
Telehealth and telemedicine as well as other technological advancements have changed the way gastroenterologists approach postoperative care, according to a report in Becker’s GI & Endoscopy.
For GI patients, this means they can return more quickly to their comfortable home environment — yet continue receiving regular consultations with their Tele-GI specialist. The result is shorter hospitalizations, reduced risk and better outcomes. Eagle Telemedicine’s follow-up care is especially critical in rural areas with no access to a gastroenterologist.
Highly regarded experts treating your patients
Eagle’s Tele-GI specialists are highly experienced with excellent credentials, and patients appreciate their expertise in the community hospital, close to home.
Eagle customizes each telemedicine program to meet the hospital’s specific needs, and adapts to the hospital’s technology preferences. Tele-GI consultants adapt seamlessly to the hospital’s processes and EMR systems, documenting every point. They participate in rounds and shift hand-offs, as necessary. Hospitals see improved revenues immediately, along with improved patient outcomes, when they sign up with Eagle Telemedicine.
Is it time your hospital explored telemedicine? Does your community need Tele-GI services? Eagle’s Tele-GI specialists are trained to manage patients experiencing:
- Esophageal Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Inflammatory bowel disease & Irritable bowel syndrome
- Pylori & other Infections
- Microscopic colitis
Our team can consult with your onsite hospitalists to order appropriate tests, review all lab work and prescribe timely treatment. If it’s time your patients had access to Tele-GI specialty services, let’s talk.