Penn Medicine creates Center for Connected Care to streamline telemedicine services

By Laura Lovett
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The University of Pennsylvania's Penn Medicine has been an active player in the telehealth game for sometime with multiple telehealth units, but last week it went a step further to announce that it will be centralizing its telemedicine activities into the Penn Medicine Center for Connected Care. 

“Patients today increasingly expect to engage with health care providers with the same clickable convenience as buying holiday gifts online or ordering a ride-sharing service from their phone,” Dr. C. William Hanson, III, chief medical information officer at Penn Medicine, said in a statement. “Our telehealth services make it easy for patients to get the care they need where they need it. Telemedicine is also an important part of our health system’s strategic growth, connecting clinicians in different hospitals and ranging from real-time care of our critically ill patients to the expansion of our home care services for patients at increased risk of being readmitted to the hospital after they go home.”

The new center will include a telehealth homecare service for the chronically ill, a telemedicine service that links obstetricians to trauma surgeons caring for injured pregnant women, telehealth urgent care services, and the Penn E-lert eICU for the critically ill. 

Penn E-lert eICU was integrated into the Penn Medicine system almost 15 years ago. The system provides 24-7 coverage in the ICU by using two-way video and audio technology to monitor patients and alert providers when help is needed. 

The new center will also include the Home Telehealth program, which uses remote monitoring to help track patients' vitals and other health indicators. The hospital claims the program has reduced readmission by 35 percent in the medically complex patient population. 

The telemedicine offerings have also allowed patients that live far away from the hospital to be seen by Penn Medicine doctors through video conferencing. 

The telehealth offerings span multiple specialities including genetics, dermatology, radiology, stroke, and ophthalmology. 

“Connected care allows us to bypass the constraint of needing the patient to come to us in order to get the best medical care,” Hanson said in a statement. “We’re bringing the highest level of care to the greatest number of people: the right care in the right place at the right time.” 

But this isn’t the only digital health news out of Penn Medicine this year. Recently, it was listed as one of the first 12 hospitals to launch the Apple Health Records feature in beta. Health Records will aggregate existing patient data, with data from users’ medical records. Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, and Geisinger Health Systems were also included. 

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