SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS--The third annual Telemedicine Pioneer Award was presented to HSHS HolyFamily Hospital of Greenville, Illinois, at an annual meeting of the Illinois Telehealth Network (ITN) at the Chiara Center in Springfield, Illinois, on June 16, 2017. The award was accepted by Brian Nall, President and CEO, Tammy Lett, former Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), and Susan LaMonica, Senior Wellness leader, on behalf of HSHS Holy Family Hospital.
Trina Casner, ITN Board Chair and President and CEO of Pana Community Hospital commented, “This year’s award recognizes ground-breaking work in designing and operationalizing a new tele-psychiatry program to prevent an inpatient Senior Wellness and Geriatric Psychiatry program from closing when the sole psychiatrist provider gave notice of intent to move his private practice to care for more patients in a wider geography.” She added, “Closing the program, just as it was about to expand to meet the needs of a growing elderly population in the Greenville community, would have meant laying off support staff and would also mean that seniors would have had to drive over 60 miles to obtain services.”
The team at HSHS Holy Family Hospital designed their own tele-psychiatry program, identified telemedicine equipment, ensured legal requirements were met, and trained staff. On April 1, 2017, the full-time tele-psychiatry launched with no lapse in care, and no change in provider.
“This project helped preserve a vital program in our community,” commented Brian Nall, President and CEO of HSHS Holy Family Hospital. “Our team designed our own tele-psychiatry delivery mechanism to facilitate patient and provider encounters to be more convenient and easily accessible for provider, staff, and patients.”
The new tele-psychiatry program prevented the closure of HSHS Holy Family Hospital’s inpatient and outpatient geriatric psychiatry units, preventing the loss of $500,000 in annual revenue, and the loss of several jobs.
“Most rural communities in Illinois have a shortage of psychiatric care, and recruitment is all but impossible,” said Tammy Lett, former CNO that helped design the program. “Tele-psychiatry allowed us to preserve our program and allowed our psychiatrist provider to see more patients over a larger geographic rural area.”
In presenting the award, Dr. Gurpreet Mander, ITN Executive Director, and Chief Medical Officer of HSHS St. John’s Hospital, commended HSHS Holy Family Hospital. “This annual Telemedicine Pioneer Award recognizes ground-breaking rural work in identifying a need, designing and deploying a new telemedicine program, training support staff, and learning new reimbursement and medical record protocols,” Dr. Mander said. “Today’s award recognizes work that preserves access to psychiatric care in an underserved provider shortage area with no other psychiatrists present.”
HSHS Holy Family Hospital is one of 26 member hospitals and health care organizations of the Illinois Telehealth Network, a learning community and incubator of a nearly a dozen collaborative telemedicine pilots that has secured more than $1.1 million in grant support.
Photo Caption: The third annual Telemedicine Pioneer Award was presented to HSHS Holy Family Hospital of Greenville, Illinois, at an annual meeting of the Illinois Telehealth Network (ITN) at the Chiara Center in Springfield, Illinois, on June 16. Those present for the presentation of the award were (left to right): Dr. Gurpreet Mander, ITN Executive Director, and Chief Medical Officer of HSHS St. John’s Hospital; Trina Casner, ITN Board Chair and President and CEO of Pana Community Hospital; Tammy Lett, former Chief Nursing Officer of Holy Family Hospital that helped design the program; Susan LaMonica, Senior Wellness leader at Holy Family Hospital; Nicole Lewer-Holst, VP Legal Affairs, HSHS Southern Illinois Division and HSHS Associate General Counsel; and Brian Nall, President and CEO, HSHS Holy Family Hospital.
About Illinois Telehealth Network (ITN): To advance telehealth and telemedicine in rural communities, ITN was launched in 2014 with an HSHS St. Francis Hospital (Litchfield) federal grant and a Hospital Sisters of St. Francis Foundation Innovation Institute grant to support network planning. Today, ITN is comprised of 26 mostly rural hospital and health care members and is dedicated to the mission of promoting its members’ capacity “to improve access to health care, in rural, underserved and disadvantaged communities, through the application of telehealth and telemedicine solutions.” ITN’s vision is to connect and share resources, strengthen rural health care and save lives. The network is currently sustained by a diverse grant portfolio of more than $1.1 million in active grants.
The ITN Telemedicine Pioneer Award: The framed and matted award is a reproduction of the April 1924 cover of Radio News magazine, which pictures a fantastic drawing of a physician “viewing” his patient over the radio, which included a television screen, a stethoscope, and a printer. Television, however, was not even invented until 1929, five years later, and true telemedicine was not actually practiced until the 1950s in the United States. This Radio News cover, with the caption, “THE RADIO DOCTOR—MAYBE!” was drawn by a prescient artist and was accompanied by an article that wondered if this technology might be in our future to improve health and even save lives. A monthly technology magazine published from 1919 to 1971 for amateur radio enthusiasts, Radio News articles covered all the technical aspects of radio and electronics. The Radio News publisher, Hugo Gernsback, is also known for coining the term “scientifiction” which predated the phrase “science fiction.” Gernsback has been sometimes called “The Father of Science Fiction,” along with Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and in his honor, annual awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention are named the “Hugos.”