By Kelly Rhone, MD, FACEP, Avera eCARE Medical Director – Outreach and Innovation

As an experienced physician working in hospital emergency rooms across the Midwest, I’m passionate about finding new ways to equip hospitals and health systems – both rural and urban – with the resources they need to offer timely, high-quality health care. I wake up each day knowing that the work we do at Avera eCARE® makes a difference in the health care industry, and most importantly, in the lives of our patients and providers.

Why We Partner with Hospitals

Meet Jason Wickersham, MD, a family medicine and obstetrics physician at Avera St. Benedict Health Center who has discovered the convenience and accessibility of telemedicine.

“Having the eCARE Emergency button on the wall where I can easily hit it and know that I have the support of an emergency room physician – one who is maybe a little more trained in that given scenario than I am or sees it more often than I see it – is a wonderful feeling. It reassures me that I’m not on an island out here by myself.”

Avera St. Benedict is located in Parkston, SD, a southeastern South Dakota town with a population of around 1,500. Yet, it’s equipped to offer this rural community world-class health care thanks to a partnership between Avera St. Benedict and Avera eCARE®.

“Each day our providers help whoever comes in the door. Our patients come in with everything from a minor illness to a major injury,” says Rita Blasius, President and CEO of Avera St. Benedict. “Having the ability to access Avera eCARE’s specialists – both physicians and nurses –boosts their confidence because they know that extra support is available, if and when they need it.”

When a medical emergency – such as a stroke, heart attack or traumatic injury – occurs, every second counts. That’s why Avera eCARE has made it quick and easy for Dr. Wickersham’s team to call on our eCARE Emergency team.

Each emergency room is equipped for eCARE Emergency calls through a red button placed on the wall. Within seconds, our eCARE Emergency team is virtually “in” the room and connected to the patient’s electronic medical records and vitals.

Innovation is Key to Avera eCARE’s Success

This direct connection to emergency care expertise has made a significant impact on eCARE Emergency partners across the nation. In the past 12 months, they’ve experienced:

  • $3.5 million in cost savings for 137+ hospitals across the country
  • 700+ potential patient transfers avoided
  • 7,700+ video encounters
  • 21 minute reduction in door to physician, when local ER providers aren’t immediately available

In addition to eCARE Emergency, Avera eCARE also provides hospitals with additional telemedicine services, including:

  • eCARE ICU – Connects patients to board-certified intensivists for constant monitoring and faster interventions, resulting in lower risks from complications.
  • eCARE Pharmacy – Provides 24/7 access to licensed, hospital-trained pharmacists who ensure that patients receive the safest and most effective medications.
  • eCARE Specialty Clinic – Offers patients with access to virtual visits in over 35 medical specialties—including infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, nephrology and more.