In 2003, the University of Utah Burn Center identified a need to find innovative and creative ways to increase access to high quality burn care in the Intermountain Region. The Medical Director at the time, Dr. Jeffrey Saffle, began seeing patients via video technology, obtaining a grant in 2004 to expand to several sites. Patient volumes in the beginning years were low, averaging just over one visit per month. In 2016, so far, the University of Utah TeleBurn program has had over 500 telemedicine encounters.
The Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital is comprised of a fifteen bed ICU, a burn operating room, five room outpatient clinic, therapy gym, children's play room and a telemedicine suite. One key component of care at the Burn Center at the University of Utah is the focus on an interdisciplinary approach to care. By coordinating complex patient care plans with an entire care team each day on the inpatient unit, providers and clinicians are not only able to help the patient and their family understand the many elements of a successful recovery, but it also allows the team to understand the patient's worldview, and personalize the care they receive where possible.
Our objective when beginning the TeleBurn program's transformation was to ensure that the approach to burn care remained as closely tied to the mission of the Burn Center as possible. At the beginning of 2015, it became apparent that a formalized approach to interdisciplinary telemedicine was necessary in order to ensure all regulatory and compliance requirements were being met as this approach continued to grow in popularity. Beginning with the licensure of APCs to help expand our capacity to provide follow-up care, we also began licensing Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers.
Several barriers do exist that hinder the rapid adoption of a fully interdisciplinary TeleBurn program at the University of Utah. Licensure and credentialing of clinical staff such as Nurses, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Registered Dieticians, Respiratory Therapists, and Psychosocial staff. Barriers in regards to reimbursement for these varied therapy services also remain. Barriers to reimbursement by CMS also challenge the ability to treat TeleBurn patients in the home setting, or in non-rural areas. While specialty service and global billing practices do apply to many burn patients, many non-surgical patients are not covered under these same billing conditions.
In conclusion, the focus on creating an interdisciplinary TeleBurn program has allowed us to not only increase patient volume, but to ensure that the full spectrum of burn care can be provided wherever possible. As the regulatory aspects of telemedicine become more clear, our ability to broaden our offerings in regards to dietary care, child life issues, physical and occupational therapy, etc, will be able to grow as well.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
UNIVERSITY OF UTAH HEALTH CARE
As a Business Development Specialist in the Department of TeleHealth at University of Utah Healthcare, Whitney works with both clinical service lines and partner healthcare facilities in the Intermountain region to connect patients and providers via innovative technologies. With over 15 active service lines and over 40 connected hospitals, the University of Utah is able to facilitate thousands of appointments each year, bringing world class healthcare services to patients who would not otherwise have access.
Tuesday, April 25
10:30 AM – 10:45 AM
University of Utah Health Care
Liz Mark is the Burn Telemedicine Coordinator for the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. Liz graduated from the University of Utah with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 2013. She has worked in the Burn Center for 5 years. Combining Liz’s burn expertise with the TeleBurn program has been a great asset in helping to provide exceptional patient care for those who are in need of specialized burn and soft tissue injury care, but may live a distance away from the University of Utah, Hospital.
Tuesday, April 25
10:30 AM – 10:45 AM