Telemedicine Helps Revive Rural Arizona Hospital

Telemedicine helps revive rural Arizona hospital

The installation of telemedicine technology at Cochise Regional Hospital in Douglas, Ariz., has allowed the troubled hospital to turn its finances around.

The hospital in Douglas, a rural town on the border of Arizona and Mexico, came under new management in the last year after the former management company, Southeast Arizona Medical Center, declared bankruptcy. The hospital had a high volume of non-reimbursed care, which only contributed to its struggling finances as a hospital with low volume having to convert to stronger federal regulations, according to the Sierra Vista Herald.

People’s Choice Hospital, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based nonprofit organization that works with hospitals to reform their finances, picked up the rent for Cochise Regional Hospital and established the telemedicine connection with physicians and specialists in Chicago. The organization fine-tuned the organization’s executive leadership and then trimmed its expenses before implementing the technology, according to the report.

The hospital had been on the brink of closure because of multiple violation citations from the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2014, but has since mended its relationship with the department and fixed the violations, according to the report.

The telemedicine technology allows the hospital to provide services to more clinics throughout the rural county at a lower cost, enabling it to right its finances. People’s Choice Hospital also evaluated and eliminated redundancies in hospital vendor contracts and the coding, billing and accounts receivable department, which had an antiquated system that needed redesign. The hospital plans to continue its telemedicine program and expand to other clinics and small hospitals in the region, according to the report.

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