Healthcare remains one of the few services that require people to have a face-to-face interaction. But more and more consumers are questioning that reality, and change is on the way. The widely held goal of improving healthcare outcomes while lowering costs is accelerating the shift from a one-to-one to a one-to-many model of care delivery, which telemedicine makes possible. With continuous advancements in technology, the healthcare landscape is rapidly changing. Care providers are looking for ways to deliver faster, and more personalized care to their patients while improving communications within their care teams.
Cognizant of this fact, Eagle Telemedicine started providing telemedicine services in the hospital setting in 2008. Initially, they started by providing inpatient TeleHospitalist and TeleStroke services to rural hospitals. Over the last nine years, it has adapted and grown to meet the ever-evolving demands of the industry. Eagle Telemedicine has expanded its services to offer additional inpatient medical subspecialties, such as Tele-ICU, TeleCardiology, TelePsychiatry and TeleNephrology. Given the breadth of its services, the company is uniquely positioned to fill any gaps in specialty coverage a partner hospital may have.
Eagle Telemedicine is strictly a physician group, and it doesn’t sell any hardware or software. It is technology agnostic and will work with whatever telemedicine cart the partner hospitals acquire.
The Leading Light
Eagle Telemedicine’s CEO Talbot “Mac” McCormick, MD is an Emory University School of Medicine graduate and a board-certified Internist. His previous leadership experiences from multispecialty group practices, to population health management (full risk capitation agreements for 100,000 patients), to national hospitalist group practice management, provides unique perspectives to position and grow Eagle Telemedicine as the premier provider of inpatient physician services utilizing telemedicine tools, processes and best practices.
Eagle’s initial idea came from the question: “Could our hospitalist doctors use telemedicine tools and processes to help rural hospitalist programs care for their patients at night?” Several demonstration projects later, which showed improvements in quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction, Eagle was approached by a rural Kentucky hospital to help cover the hospitalist program at night. Even after eight years, Eagle Telemedicine doctors are still helping cover nights at that hospital.
“The toughest challenge in the beginning was that we were doing things that we didn’t know anyone had done before, so we had to develop the processes, workflows, and critical skill sets as well as business and compensation models for TeleHospitalist medicine,” says Talbot. The work, lessons, and experiences gained in those early years allowed the company to develop competencies, business and clinical processes, and scalability. As Eagle grew and hospitals recognized strengths in TeleHospitalist medicine, they began asking Eagle to provide other physician specialty services for the inpatient environment.
Eagle believes the foundation of its success is rooted in the belief that the local doctors, providers, and nurses on the ground are the foundation to any hospital’s delivery of care to their communities, and that it can augment and supplement their capacity for care by bringing its physicians alongside using telemedicine tools, processes and best practices. “Our approach to customize each hospital partner’s needs and best interests, by using their equipment, their EMR, and covering the hours and specialty needs they define, positions us as their servant,” says Talbot. Eagle’s scope across virtually all medical sub-specialties provides a single-partner and cost-effective engagement.
Being a Good Partner for the Hospitals It Works With
Since 2008, Eagle Telemedicine has adhered to one basic strategy: to provide cost-effective and sustainable staffing solutions, and alleviate the challenges hospitals face due to recruiting issues, the worsening physician shortage, and the geographic maldistribution of doctors, which results in a “geographic penalty” to those living in rural areas.
What’s unique about Eagle’s services is that it is a one-stop “virtual partner” for hospitals, regardless of the coverage that they need. Whether they need 24/7/365 TeleStroke or Tele-ICU coverage, or just periodic TeleNephrology or Tele-Oncology consultants, Eagle has developed a customizable solution.
The type of telemedicine solution Eagle offers is a two-way audio-visual communication between a doctor “beamed in” from another location and a patient, which delivers broad benefits to any rural hospital. First, sustainable staffing solutions ease the struggle small community hospitals face in recruiting top-quality hospitalists and specialists to their rural locations. Second, it offers an effective alternative to the frequent transfer of patients to distant tertiary referral hospitals to get the care they need.
The company sees the benefits time and again as forward-thinking rural hospitals rely on its telemedicine programs to bridge staffing gaps. Rural hospitals reduce out-transfer of patients. They increase admissions, patient census, and revenue. They increase patient satisfaction. And they improve quality and consistency of care through 24/7 access to specialists.
Eagle’s solutions include TeleHospitalists (night coverage for smaller hospitals and night floor call and surge protection for larger ones); TeleStroke and TeleNeurology inpatient programs to facilitate timely stroke care and retention of appropriate patients close to home; behavioral health for ED consult service and back-up inpatient units; and virtual partnerships for solo specialty doctors or small groups for weekend, night or vacation coverage.
Eagle Telemedicine aims simply to change the world. Every telemedicine engagement it has with a hospital partner is rooted in a scenario where traditional or previous practice solutions could not produce the intended outcomes. Eagle’s vision would be to build on its platform to change the world for individual hospitals, doctors and nurses as well as patients and their families in need of inpatient physician care and support.