Through the use of telemedicine, Southern Illinois Healthcare hospitals and clinics are collaborating with specialists and community organizations to improve access to quality care.
Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) is a not-for-profit system with over 3,000 employees serving 16 counties. Its flagship hospital, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, offers nearly 40 specialty services. The SIH telehealth mission is to improve the health and well-being of the people in the communities they serve by improving and promoting the availability and provision of healthcare services in rural and under served areas of Illinois.
As with most rural areas, the shortage of mental-health providers is a significant barrier to care. Southern Illinois Healthcare knows the mental health shortage crisis better than anyone. Only 1 psychiatrist was available to serve 1.5 million patients. As a result, EDs were presented with unique challenges:
- Long wait times causing patients to leave against medical advice.
- Being overwhelmed with mental health cases due to a lack of a specialist.
- Un-diagnosed patients since an inpatient psychiatrist was not available.
- Patients returning because they did not have a diagnosis or a mental health medical home.
SIH also sought to leverage telemedicine to reach new milestones in its delivery of stroke care, and established a goal minimizing the time from door to needle to less than one hour.