St. Luke’s Health System is expanding its virtual care services to more emergency departments across the state allowing people in rural areas to have access to top health experts. The St. Luke's Virtual Care Center opened in Boise in 2018.
Emergency departments in Nampa, Wood River, McCall, Fruitland, Mountain Home, Magic Valley, Jerome, Meridian, and Boise will now have connectivity with new virtual neurologists, behavioral health providers, pediatricians, and more at the center.
According to St. Luke’s, the Virtual Care Center was the region’s first “virtual hospital” and was designed to provide access to top specialty and emergency providers to rural Idaho.
Due to the pandemic, St. Luke’s has relied on virtual services more than ever in the last year. According to St. Luke’s, more than 200,000 clinic visits have been via telehealth since March 2020.
“This is the kind of work that aligns with best practice and extends our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve by providing the right care in the right place at the right time,” St. Luke’s Health System senior director of telehealth Krista Stadler said.
Although telehealth has been an option at St. Lukes, this newly expanded service allows doctors and nurses to use two-way cameras and remote patient monitoring equipment to connect physicians and specialists at the Virtual Care Center with emergency department doctors. This will allow diagnosis and treatment plans for patients to happen from miles away.
“We are all excited about the expanded telehealth services recently instituted in our Emergency Department,” added Dr. Terry Ahern, SLWR Emergency Department Medical Director. “Having real-time video consults with St. Luke's pediatricians and stroke neurologists will undeniably add value to a patient's ED visit and help to drive exceptional care at our Wood River hospital."
St. Luke’s says this expanded service has been used a few times throughout the last few weeks and has been very successful.
“These expanded emergency department services are such an important effort to standardize care across all St. Luke’s emergency departments,” said Stadler. “Any patient who walks in the doors of any St. Luke’s emergency department should know they are getting the same level of care, no matter if their location is in the city or in the mountains.”
Equipment and technology necessary for this service have been installed, and St. Luke's expects it to be rolled out to all sites over the next several months.