|New technology and tighter budgets are bringing hospitals together in partnerships that save money and lives.In a recent article by Kaiser Health News’ Jenny Gold, in collaboration with National Public Radio (NPR), Jack Porter, mayor of Bisbee, Arizona, shares his story of how such a partnership saved him from a potentially dire outcome.|
Porter was rushed to the only emergency room in town last July after awaking with numbness in his right side and slurred speech. Doctors at Copper Queen Community Hospital determined he was having a stroke and administered TPA, a clot-busting drug that can minimize the effects of a stroke when given in a tight timeframe.
Typically, rural hospitals like Copper Queen Community, rarely giveTPA because they don’t have stroke specialists on hand to help assess the situation. Instead, they have to transfer patients by helicopter to larger hospitals, such as in Tucson or Phoenix. But Copper Queen Community was able to avoid such a transfer thanks to a partnership with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale that allows their local physicians to work with specialists remotely, even though the two hospitals are more than 200 miles apart.
Telemedicine, as it’s called, is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred through multimedia between health care organizations or professionals to consult or aid in medical procedures remotely. Using this technology, physicians and specialists literally “video in” to the exam or operating room to help guide onsite staff.
In another partnership, Copper Queen Community Hospital is also cutting costs and improving care by merging purchasing with larger hospitals in order to purchase lower-cost medical equipment. It’s almost like going in on a Costco® membership with your sister, only for x-ray machines instead of giant vats of mayo.
Other hospitals, like the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn., are developing staff-share agreements with would-be competitors. Through this agreement, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital allows intensive care unit nurses to work in UT’s pediatric intensive care unit—doing so splits the burden of cost between the two organizations while offering patients quality care at both locations.
If your health care organization is considering partnering with other hospitals to share costs and maintain or expand services to patients, here are a few tips for communicating these programs to the community:
After the team brainstorms these questions, make sure they stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Develop an internal tagline to help staff remember key messages and imprint it on pens, note pads and signs for meeting and break rooms.
Health care is more collaborative than ever, consider a similar model for your organization today.
Gold, Jenny. “Community Hospital In Rural Arizona Finds Innovative Ways To Survive – Kaiser Health News.” Kaiser Health News. 2 Aug. 2011. Web. 04 Aug. 2011.
Brewer, Bill. “Two Local Hospitals to Share Critical Care Nurses » Knoxville News Sentinel.” Knoxville News Sentinel: Local Knoxville, Tennessee News Delivered Throughout the Day. Web. 04 Aug. 2011.
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