Through a partnership with University of Utah Medical Care, the Power County Hospital can now treat patients using telemedicine. This is where doctors can check on patients without having to be in the same room.
Doctors in Salt Lake City will be able to discuss treatment and diagnoses with patients in American Falls through a camera and screen. There is also a tablet to type and send messages.
Right now the services are geared for burn patients only, but there are plans to expand services for dermatology and psychology, as well as ER and ICU services.
Dallas Clinger, the administrator for the hospital, said this is the way hospitals need to go.
“This is going to be the way to keep our small rural hospitals functioning well into the future,” said Clinger. “The technology’s here, we just have to apply it and use it. Get it set up so our doctors here are comfortable with it.”
In the past with burn patients, the hospital had to send them to Utah for treatment. With this technology, that family trip can be eliminated, since the doctors at University of Utah could work with the hospital’s staff on treatment.
“Families won’t have to travel clear to Salt Lake City and try to find someplace to stay during the whole treatment process. They’d be able to be here locally in their own homes,” Clinger said.
However, if doctors do recommend transfer, there is another benefit: familiarity.
Clinger said, “The doctors down there have already seen and been able to assess the patient. They can prepare for them upon arrival.”
Besides helping the patients, the technology will help the hospital’s staff, too. With it, staff members will be able to get access to extensive job training from the University of Utah.
The technology was bought through a grant from the Hospital Cooperative, which is a group of 14 southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming hospitals.