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Sovereign Health Announces Expanded Telehealth Service

Sovereign Health adopted advanced health IT infrastructure solutions to provide a telehealth program for outpatients.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Sovereign Health announced the release of its new telehealth service, Telehealth, to offer outpatients the same level of care they would receive if they were being treated on-premise. The behavioral health system aims to improve the how its services are provided by offering more flexible and personalized treatment.

Telehealth patients will receive individual and group counseling sessions via videoconferencing with clinicians. The solution uses a secure, HIPAA-compliant program to two-way video chat with patients. The organization is using Telehealth to find new and innovative ways to ensure patients are treated in the best environment for the best chance at lasting recovery.

"Our industry has been a little behind in leveraging technology, and this a good way forward so more people can get help," Sovereign Health CEO Tonmoy Sharma said in a statement. "Laws require that clinicians delivering telehealth services be licensed in the state, so Sovereign's program is currently offered to patients in California, Texas and Florida, where the organization has established operations. Another phase of the Telehealth rollout will aim to increase the network of clinicians, bringing in others outside of Sovereign's current geography."

Telehealth benefits include schedule flexibility, remote patient access, and a more comforting environment for patients uncomfortable with in-person therapy.

The program is available to patients who have completed inpatient therapy as part of recovery management, and also to new patients who are part of the outpatient program. Patients who relocate aand can no longer see their trusted clinician in person now have the opportunity to continue care uninterrupted.

Sovereign Health predicts that this new way of treating patients will prevent a number of relapses and allow some patients to better connect with their clinicians.

Many organizations are adopting telehealth as part of their health IT infrastructure to reach more patients and bring care to patients in remote areas.

Free-standing hospital Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri implemented Cradlepoint technology to provide secure and reliable wireless connections for its telehealth program. The telehealth program uses 4G technology to securely connect clinicians to the datacenter from remote locations.

By upgrading its health IT infrastructure with a more advanced telehealth solution, Children’s Mercy was able to solve issues it was having with poor connectivity and patient experience.

“Because we’re in the business of telemedicine, it’s not like a business conference where you can tolerate some poor quality and metal through it,” Children’s Mercy Telemedicine Director Morgan Waller told HITInfrastructure.com. “Poor quality connection is a total deal breaker for us.”

“When we need to be at an access hospital or someone’s home, it’s very difficult to implement different security systems,” Waller continued. “If it’s an access hospital, you need to meet with their IT and there’s troubleshooting- it takes days or even weeks to set up.”

Before Cradlepoint, Children’s Mercy was using cellular connection and consumer-grade MiFi devices, none of which were giving the hospital the connectivity they needed to successfully treat patients. Patient wireless networks were not always reliable and some patients lived in areas with low wireless coverage, which could not be used at all.

“It’s all about reliable connectivity wherever we go without having to ask people for access to their networks,” Children’s Mercy Senior Telemedicine and Video Conferencing Analyst John Baker explained to HITInfrastructure.com. “Especially in patient homes, some of the population we serve just don’t have access to internet that’s fast enough or reliable enough to give us the quality we would need to do video reliably. We need to do video to make the business worthwhile.”

Children’s Mercy found that bringing healthcare to a patient’s home is both convenient for the patient and more cost effective for the organization. The hospital no longer needed to provide physical space for on-premise patient care and patients were able to have real-time conversations with their providers from their homes.  


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