Hospitals are looking for telemedicine applications that help manage spikes in patient volumes, particularly in the Emergency Department (ED). Flu season has traditionally marked a surge in hospital patient load – when ED traffic and admissions spike. These surges put patients at risk when hospitals are understaffed, as is most likely to happen in rural hospitals. These small communities are facing shortages in emergency coverage, a problem expected to worsen as rural doctors retire – with no one to replace them.
Shift changes at night and early morning carry the biggest risk, research shows. Patients admitted at night with stroke symptoms have higher mortality risk. Early morning hours are a big risk for patients with ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction.
The risk to patients was most dramatic during the COVID-19 pandemic, when those admitted during a surge had the highest odds of dying, one study revealed. The data came from 117 US hospitals during spring 2020, when 21% of patients admitted for COVID-19 died. The mortality rate was one-third higher when the COVID-19 burden was greatest.
The mortality risk for ICU patients is also highest during these surges. With resources being diverted to manage the surge, hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia are more likely to develop in intubated and ventilated ICU patients, which increases risk of death.
EAGLE TELEMEDICINE NIGHT COVER AGE SOLUTIONS
Why They Work for Hospitals and Physicians
Hospitals have tried multiple approaches to manage surges, and often a “lottery“ system keeps an unscheduled doctor on-call to handle ED overloads. However, this system has drawbacks.
The jeopardy doctor typically has a higher pay rate compared to an average hospitalist. Additionally, staff hospitalists are often on-call as the jeopardy doctor on their days off – which deprives them of valuable downtime and leads to provider burnout. Not wanting to burden their coworkers, the ED physician may hesitate to interrupt the jeopardy doctor on their day off, so too often they suffer through the surge short-handed.
A Telemedicine Application on the Rise
Hospitalist overload and ED surges can happen at any time, but with Eagle Surge Protection™, your hospital can access expert TeleHospitalists whenever you need assistance with patient admits. It’s ideal for rural hospitals with limited local physician resources, or metropolitan hospitals where surges can happen at any time, day or night. With Eagle Surge Protection™, you’ll always be prepared.
Eagle Surge Protection™ is a service that can enhance Eagle’s TeleCross-Coverage or NP/PA Backup coverage. Our remote TeleHospitalist teams support nocturnists who may already be overwhelmed with admissions. This can remove the burden of floor calls and consultations from onsite ED providers and help ED throughput during peak periods.
Case Study: Eagle Keeps Rural Kansas Hospital System on Even Keel
Saint Luke’s Health System (SLHS) receives support from virtual hospitalists using Eagle’s TeleNocturnist program. Two of Saint Luke’s Critical Access Hospitals in Missouri, and a third hospital in Leavenworth County, Kansas, have used Eagle TeleNocturnists since 2017.
Before signing up with Eagle, SLHS had provided its own telemedicine program to several of its 16 facilities. Prompted by a goal to improve efficiencies in care, SLHS turned over its virtual hospitalist program to Eagle, which already had a strong presence in Kansas’ rural hospitals.
Dr. Anthony Fangman, MF, FHM, MBA, division chair of hospital medicine for SLHS, describes the switch to Eagle’s services as “seamless, with little or no management involvement, which was incredibly helpful from a division chair standpoint.”
While Dr. Fangaman anticipated some “rough moments” in transitioning to Eagle’s services, that didn’t happen. “The experience with Eagle was completely seamless,” he says. The changeover happened quickly and smoothly, and immediately SLHS began to see it had made the right decision.”
Benefits of Eagle’s Surge Protection™
For small hospitals, cost-sharing Eagle’s TeleHospitalist service has been a perfect fit. The surges are very unpredictable, so deploying surge protection makes hospital staff management easier. The ED staff can tap their Eagle provider at a moment’s notice. This scenario makes more sense than hiring a full-time physician to cover nights IN CASE a surge occurs.
Value of New Telemedicine Applications:
- Timely, Trusted Service: Telehealth resources are available at a moment’s notice, stepping in and providing a solution.
- Economically Efficient: An Eagle hospitalist can be on-call to handle an individual hospital’s surge when it occurs. The TeleHospitalist can also cross-cover multiple hospitals at one time.
- Peace of Mind: On-site hospitalists can rest assured that Eagle’s TeleNocturnists will handle each patient case expertly, updating the EMR with detailed notes on the patient’s condition.
- Patient, Family Acceptance: Feedback from patients and families has shown they’ve embraced their telemedicine relationships and delivery of care.
With Eagle Surge Protection™, hospitals can access expert TeleHospitalists whenever they need assistance with patient admits. It’s ideal for rural hospitals with limited local physician resources, or metropolitan hospitals where surges can happen at any time, day or night. With Eagle Surge Protection™, hospital emergency departments will always be prepared.