Clinical Services

ePoster Presentation

(EP-119) Pediatric Allied Health Telemedicine Use: Providing the Best Care at a Lower Cost

Tuesday, April 25
10:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Location: Experience Zone - ePosters

Allied healthcare professionals are defined as, "…those health professions that are distinct from medicine and nursing." (Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions). These providers are integral to pediatric healthcare. Often allied healthcare providers are key members of a multidisciplinary team that can provide care to the whole child. This includes dieticians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and health educators. We faced a challenge with how to balance strategic priorities to continue to grow our telehealth program, while having ongoing reimbursement challenges in our state. However, there was an opportunity to consider utilizing telemedicine to leverage staff most efficiently and demonstrate cost savings for the hospital. Our allied health provider teams developed several key telehealth programs that demonstrated clinical value and cost neutral or cost savings for our organization. Our nutrition therapy program was able to save the cost of an entire FTE (national average ~$55,000) by implementing a telemedicine nutrition therapy at one of the hospital outpatient facilities utilizing traditional telemedicine equipment. Previously, a full FTE was staffed at this facility but faced less than 50% utilization. When one of the therapists left, this position was not filled, and we developed telehealth nutrition therapy consults at that location. This program leveraged existing capacity of therapists at our main hospital to meet the needs. This program has been so successful we are currently expanding to 2 additional sites and have also started to include a social worker via telemedicine into those same clinics. Our audiology team implemented telehealth to enable audiologists and technicians to provide hearing aid support via a web-based link sent to families or schools. Often these patients would have to wait days or even weeks to be seen to trouble-shoot a hearing aid issue if it could not be easily solved via the telephone. When they were seen in person, they filled precious clinic spots, for an often not reimbursed or low reimbursed service. By moving these visits to telemedicine on demand model using newer web-based technology, we are not only providing clinical care sooner to the patient, but also allowing for our in person clinical time to be utilized to see patients with indications that are more likely to be reimbursed. Finally, our educator team that works with oncology patients had challenge of covering an existing large unit, and a new 10-bed inpatient oncology unit. Rather than having inefficiency of sending an educator to the other unit twenty miles away whenever teaching was needed, they implemented a telemedicine education program with those patients needing instruction. This enabled them to save approximately $76 per session in mileage and non-productive time. Last fiscal year 15.8% (N=123) of our telemedicine encounters were provided to patients by an allied health care provider. The clinical outcomes have been consistent with in person care, technical needs are easily met with existing technologies, and cost savings and staffing efficiencies are being realized.

Learning Objectives:

Jennifer G. Ruschman

Director of Telehealth
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Jennifer Gamm Ruschman is the Director of Telehealth at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Case Western Reserve University and her Master's Degree in Genetic Counseling from Johns Hopkins. She is a healthcare professional with a diverse background. She provided clinical genetic counseling services for several years before diversifying her expereicnes. Experiences include product/service development, project management, and relationship management. Her focus has been healthcare operations and Ms. Ruschman enjoys fields that require strong technical background. She helped to develop the Center for Telehealth at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 2013, and has served as the Director of that Center since its inception. Her team has developed over 50 different pediatric telehealth programs in inpatient, outpatient, and home settings.


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Kathleen Sparks

Project Administrator, Allied Health
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Project Management Leader and Six Sigma Black Belt with extensive experience in Information Technology, Health Care, Telecommunications, Patient/Customer Care and Billing, including business operations, as well as software development life cycle (SDLC) from identification of business requirements through systems implementation. Adept in mobilizing cross functional support teams to achieve operational efficiencies, maximizing resource utilization, increasing revenues, decreasing costs, and improving client satisfaction. Drives strong operational and financial results using key performance indicators (KPI’s).

Specialties: Project Management, Program/Portfolio Management, Change Management, Strategic Planning, Quality, Continuous Process Improvement, Metrics/Dashboards/Scorecards, Resource Management, Systems Development and Implementation, New Business Development, Global Operations.


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Micah Dean

Consultant, Center for Telehealth
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Micah joined the staff at the Center for Telehealth in 2015. He was focused on bringing to life new models of delivery for telehealth, and began working with several allied health care teams initially. His strong performance and early successes have led to much of the work presented today. Specialties: Business Development, Project Management, Practice Improvement


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Kathy Kramer

Program Manager, Center for Telehealth
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Kathy is a Program Manager with the Center for Telehealth. She started working in telehealth in 2014, and is a major contributor to our program. She develops new programs, from concept through first year of execution. She has a background in healthcare, and has served Cincinnati Children's wonderfully for over 35 years.


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(EP-119) Pediatric Allied Health Telemedicine Use: Providing the Best Care at a Lower Cost

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