Ascension St. Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point, Wisconsin identified the need to reduce infectious disease transfers. Ascension St. Michael’s and the seven other hospitals in Ascension’s North Central Wisconsin region needed to find new ways to reduce the number of patients being transferred out of system.
After one of their infectious disease (ID) specialists left St. Michael’s, clinical leadership realized the gap in ID coverage was a major reason the facility was transferring 50% of its patients needing ID consultation to hospitals out of network. Sometimes these infectious disease transfers were to hospitals in Madison, more than an hour away.
Hospitalists and specialty care physicians on staff were becoming more vocal about the need for ID support. Telephone consultations with specialists weren’t enough. “You need to be able to look at the wound to know how to deal with it,” said Dr. Vimarsh Raina, an experienced TeleHospitalist who is Ascension’s Medical Director for Virtual Care. He and Dr. Robyn Schertz, MD Vice President of Medical Affairs, agreed that a Tele-ID program could be the answer.
Eagle Telemedicine’s Tele-ID program went live at Ascension St. Clare’s December 11, 2018, with rollout to Ascension St. Michael’s the following week. Implementation across the other hospitals in the system came easily in the new year, even with the multiple EMRs, systems and processes involved. Patients suffering from sepsis, osteomyelitis and other infections are no longer infectious disease transfers. These patients are able to stay in their hometown hospital in the North Central Wisconsin Ascension system, all of which are now well-equipped to manage the supervised dosing of antibiotics for complicated infections and other care required by ID patients. Once patients are discharged, the Tele-ID physician is available by phone to consult with the patient’s primary care physician should any questions arise.