Arizona Telemedicine Blog Book - Page 17

studies of high school athletes, cheerleaders, and other contact sports players, so if a kid gets hit in the head, the new scan can be compared with the baseline to see if there’s a concussion.” data. One striking example: the National Rural Health Association counted 48 rural hospital closures since 2010 – with 31 of those closures occurring over the last two years. Copper Queen also is scoring well on patient satisfaction – it was a remarkable 90 percent among ER patients last year – and Mr. Dickson believes telemedicine is again part of the equation. In Arizona, the 70-bed Hualapai Mountain Medical Center in Kingman closed in September 2011, but has been bought by Kingman Regional Medical Center for use as an acute rehabilitation unit. And Florence Community Healthcare, with 25 beds, closed in June 2012. “We initially thought that a television would create a barrier, a not-so-caring environment,” he says. “But it’s not true. When the doctor comes on, the patient is just so happy to have a specialist like that in a small hospital. What you have to do is develop your hospital’s culture so that staff accept the addition of telemedicine to your delivery system“What you have to do is develop your hospital’s culture so that staff accept the addition of telemedicine to your delivery system.” Dan Derksen, MD, director of the Center for Rural Health in the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, keeps a close eye on rural hospital “Jim Dickson is incredibly creative, including his success in creating linkages to telemedicine, to make sure health care stays in his community as much as possible,” Dr. Derksen says. “Another thing Jim has done as well as anyone is to expand his revenue portfolio by establishing his three primary care clinics, along with ancillary services like lab and X-ray. Arizona’s Legislature voted to reduce hospital payments from the state’s Medicaid program – the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS – by 5 percent this year. Some legislators also are considering lowering eligibility for AHCCCS from 100 percent to 33 percent of federal poverty level. The nation’s hospitals will take another hit if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs in a pending case that questions the legality of the subsidies paid to the 8.7 million Americans who signed up for coverage from the Affordable Care Act in the 34 states, including Arizona, with federal marketplace “exchanges.” Those buying coverage in state-run exchanges would not be affected. The Obama administration says the subsidies are needed to make coverage more affordable for low- and middle-income families. The Court is expected to decide the case in June. “The storm clouds are looming,” Dr. Derksen says. “But Copper Queen is doing well. They keep track of patient satisfaction and quality. They are respected and dedicated to making sure that the services their community needs are there.” “With telecardiology, in six months, we saved over $1.4 million in transportation fees, by not having to ship people with atrial fib to Tucson and Phoenix.“ – Jim Dickson 17