Community Impact Publication 2020



Telehealth robot utilized in COVID-19 pandemic

Telehealth robot helps to save lives by limiting exposure to COVID-19 It’s really amazing what the Intouch Telehealth Robot can do,” said Chastity Orr, Great Plains Health telemedicine clinical manager. “It is capable of providing physicians the ability to not only monitor the patient, but to give consultation and take vital signs.” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Plains Health had three robots––one in the emergency department, one in themedical-surgical floor and a third

in the intensive care unit (ICU). “The robot in the emergency department was mainly utilized to monitor stroke code victims and the inpatient robots were used for specialty coverage assistance” said Orr. In March 2020, with the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lincoln County, “Everything changed,” said Orr. “We started using the robots with COVID-19 patients, reducing the exposure to our healthcare providers and staff.” “In the early days of the COVID-19 surge within our community, it quickly became apparent that we would need to rely on a different way to deliver patient care,” said Fiona Libsack, Great Plains Health chief development officer. “Keeping our patients, physicians and nursing staff safe while still ensuring that patients got the care they needed was our chief objective,” she added. In April 2020, Great Plains Health purchased a fourth robot for the third floor, primarily for COVID-19 patients in the ICU. “When it comes to providing the best possible care for patients, leadership doesn’t hesitate to invest in what is needed,” remarked Orr.

Utilizing the robot provides the ability for multiple specialists to see a patient. “We have staff assisting with robot rounding with providers seeing

patients back to back, without having to bring each provider

into the patient’s room. This really benefits the patient as well as our providers,” said Orr. “We are also able to utilize physicians from other parts of the country. For example, we have infectious disease doctors from Atlanta, neurology/stroke specialists from Denver and other specialists from Bryan Health in Lincoln.” Since March 2020, GPHealth tele- visits have increased 357 percent, a number that falls right in line with what many leading health systems across the country are experiencing. “Our organization looks at telehealth as a tool in the provider’s toolbox,” said Libsack. “When clinically appropriate, it creates the technology possible to offer vastly easier access for patients, decreases outreach travel time for providers, and reduces no-show appointments and cancellations; telehealth has a place in medicine and in improving access.”

“When it comes to providing the best possible care for patients, leadership doesn’t hesitate to invest inwhat is needed.” -ChastityOrr Great PlainsHealth telemedicine clinicalmanager

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