Broadband Matters: Healthcare
Broadband is fundamentally changing how healthcare services are delivered by supporting the interconnectivity between clinic locations, healthcare partners, radiology digital viewing systems, electronic medical records, etc.
- Healthcare providers can provide critical health information and services to and from many locations around the state.
- Electronic ICU (eICU) - Wayne County Hospital, Corydon
- Remote radiology readings - Radiology Consultants of Iowa, Cedar Rapids
- Tele-psych service - Adair County Health System, Greenfield
- Educational opportunities via video conferencing - Van Diest Medical Center, Webster City
- Patients in rural areas have access to specialists and services that are typically available only in more urban areas.
E-health initiatives, powered by broadband via the Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP), the ICN, and private telecommunications providers, allow hospitals and clinics throughout Iowa the ability to provide healthcare services statewide. Known as telemedicine, healthcare providers in one location are able to confer with patients and healthcare providers at another location. With broadband, patients are able to receive the expertise and care they need without leaving their own communities.
One impact of broadband in healthcare is rural hospitals using electronic ICU (eICU) services. With eICU, primary care physicians and nurses can discuss the plan of care with a specialist’s monitoring team and develop the best strategy for a patient. At Wayne County Hospital in Corydon, Iowa, the eICU has been implemented with great success according to hospital CEO Daren Relph. “The eICU project allows us to take care of patients closer to their home more than we had previously been able to. Patients that once upon a time would have been transferred to a different facility, we are now able to monitor in our local facility with the same expertise.” Relph says.
The increased use of telemedicine has a direct impact on the cost of healthcare as well. Through immediate access to medical records, x-rays, patient consultations, and test results from any location, patients are finding savings by limiting travel or costly overnight stays in other towns. Hospitals and clinics benefit from a more effective use of staff and resources.
Broadband provided by IRHTP and ICN in rural settings not only creates the possibility to transform care for those who need it now, but also provides the possibility that younger generations could choose to stay in rural communities.