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MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions held their annual Trustee Forum today and will continue tomorrow.
The forum is a gathering event of health care professionals from across the Upper Peninsula with speaker presentations, panel discussions, and question and answer segments.
The topic of discussion today was the emergence of Telehealth, specifically in rural areas.
Teleheath is face to face communication with a health care provider via a cellphone, tablet, or computer. This can make communication easier for patients who live in rural areas and are unable to get to their doctors appointments often.
Jonathan Neufeld, PhD and Program Director of Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center, presented on Telehealth followed by a panel discussion with other health care and Telehealth professionals.
Dennis Smith, CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Plan and Executive Director of Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, says including Telehealth for patients has created many positive outcomes.
He says, “At UPHP we’ve started a remote patient monitoring program, where we actually put devices in people’s houses. They can test their blood, they can test their weight, things like that and electronically send that back in to their case manager or their care provider. We’ve now done our pilots and are getting some good information. We’ve seen their health outcomes start improving.”
Tomorrow the topic of discussion will change to addressing the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. There will be various presentations on the cause and effects of opioid addiction. As well as a discussion on alternatives to using opioids as pain relievers after surgeries.
Brian Peters, CEO of Michigan Health & Hospital Association, says, “When someone receives a surgical intervention there’s going to be pain involved post-surgery. How can we manage that in such a way that we don’t lead to an addiction to prescription opioids? That’s an epidemic around the country.”
The goal of the two day forum is to educate health care providers from the area on what is important to patients and what is important in the Upper Peninsula.
Peters continues, “Michigan hospitals are, quite frankly, leading the entire nation when it comes to patient safety and quality improvement.”