With the assistance of Kadlec Medical Center, Ocean Beach Hospital & Medical Center (OBHMC) in Ilwaco is providing patients with tele-health services to save cost and decrease barriers to care. Patients can now access tele-speech pathology, tele-swallow evaluations and tele-registered dietician services without having to leave the OBHMC campus.
Until recently, it was thought that swallow-evals needed to be done face to face. However, Providence Oregon, led by Kate Morrell, MA, CCC-SLP conducted a study of real-time, in-person swallow-evals compared with tele-evals and found no clinically relevant difference.
As a result, OBHMC can provide patients with local care and limit the travel required, improving the hospital experience for both the patient and their family. Having these services easily accessible is significant for patients who would otherwise need go to another hospital to receive treatment. OBHMC does not have demand for a full-time speech pathologist, so being able to offer tele-swallow evals and speech treatments is a successful way to positively serve patients while working within the hospital’s boundaries.
OBHMC’s Chief Nursing Officer Linda Kaino, RN, says, “The Speech Pathology services provided in this cutting-edge way make it possible to care for patients at OBHMC that before had to be transferred out to a larger facility. It’s always better for the patient to be cared for as close to home as possible.”
Currently, the tele-health technology is being used a few times weekly. OBHMC is leveraging already-existing technology by utilizing the Providence “Tele-Stroke” robot to provide these “modern health care” services for their patients. OBHMC and KMC have also created a “Tele-Registered Dietician” program and are exploring a “Tele-Occupational Therapy” service.