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Penn Medicine has launched what the Philadelphia-based health system calls “one of the largest telehealth hubs in the country.”
With 50 full-time employees, the Center for Connected Care provides 24/7 support for patients as well as other Penn Medicine staff located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
While the center is new, it includes Penn Medicine’s nearly 15-year-old e-ICU for the critically ill, along with a tele-homecare service for patients with chronic conditions, a telemedicine service that links obstetricians to trauma surgeons caring for critically injured pregnant women, and a tele-urgent care service which eliminates the need for physical visits in some cases.
The center also houses Penn Medicine’s Home Telehealth program, which provides post-hospitalization remote monitoring for more than 160 patients each month in their homes. Featuring a concept known as “automated hovering,” the Home Telehealth program combines technologies such as wireless devices that track patients’ vital signs and other indicators with new reimbursement strategies to hold providers more accountable for keeping recently hospitalized patients from being readmitted. The program has successfully reduced readmissions by 35 percent, according to Penn Medicine.
“Patients today increasingly expect to engage with healthcare providers with the same clickable convenience as buying holiday gifts online or ordering a ride-sharing service from their phone,” Penn Medicine’s Chief Medical Information Officer C. William Hanson III, M.D., said in a statement announcing the center. “Our telehealth services make it easy for patients to get the care they need where they need it.”
The Center for Connected Care joins several other major telehealth programs serving patients across the U.S. Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, for example, runs 35 telemedicine programs across its 22 hospitals, while Mercy Virtual Care Center near St. Louis serves patients 24/7 across the country.