Signature HealthCARE: Telehealth proves instrumental during pandemic

(Photo: Signature HealthCARE website)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – At the center of Signature HealthCARE’s mission statement is a commitment to revolutionizing “the healthcare experience for those we serve, through an innovative culture of person-directed care…driven by…learning and purpose.” 

It is this very mission that lead to a company-wide partnership five years ago with telemedicine company, YourDoc2U. At that time, a sweeping global pandemic wasn’t at the forefront of anyone’s mind. 

Signature HealthCARE had no idea how their five-year affiliation with a telehealth company would revolutionize the impact of the telemedicine industry and sustain its residents, their families and doctors on multiple levels during a COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Signature HealthCARE completed its YourDoc2U telehealth rollout to all its facilities in its 10-state long-term care network. The timing could not have been more crucial for Signature HealthCARE as an unexpected pandemic would surface in early 2020.

“Telemedicine, at its core, is meant to connect patients and their doctors together, with a remote, yet ‘face to face’ connection,” said David Duggins, CEO of YourDoc2U, LLC. “But the Coronavirus pandemic has tremendously expanded its uses and abilities to a point that directs us to a future that will exponentially advance its importance.”

YourDoc2U maximizes person-directed care with a mobile and transportable platform equipped with a computer monitor, microphone, camera and diagnostic equipment that allows patients, with the help of staff, to provide information to another medical professional who is at a different location, all while at a patient’s bedside and in the patient’s room. 

Over the past five years, this ability has connected a large variety of medical providers with their patients, including primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and specialists such as cardiologist, pulmonologist and more. These medical professionals are able to integrate crucial devices such as stethoscopes, otoscopes, wound cameras and more to provide high quality care and thorough evaluation and consultation, all while the patient remains comfortable, in place, and in their own room. 

In a pandemic, this ability expanded in more ways than one.

“I have worked in long term care for 25 years now and telehealth and YourDoc2U has been the most innovative change in my career,” said Rita Crabtree, CEO and administrator for Signature HealthCARE at Monroe County. “YourDoc2U has been utilized in my facility for wound care, mental health and talk therapy. During COVID-19, it has been utilized for physician consults and care during a time when regulations restricted outside visitors, and we worked diligently to limit outside exposure from the community as much as possible. This resource has allowed these experts in their respective fields to provide holistic and in-house care to our residents instead

of having to travel to external facilities. The continuity of care is so important and being able to provide this medical care at the next level, in house, has been invaluable.”

At the very start of this pandemic, Signature HealthCARE began using telehealth as it was originally intended, connecting patients with their doctors, virtually and remotely. But within days, it became clear that telehealth was critical to patient engagement in another way; with their families. 

In the same way patients could connect to a doctor, Signature HealthCARE used YourDoc2U to allow families to interface and connect with their loved ones after restricted visitation began, virtually. This proved to help combat loneliness and depression and provided needed connection to family during a difficult time.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to have virtual visits during this COVID-19 lockdown,” said Jim Swick, whose Aunt Marilyn is a resident at Signature HealthCARE of Lafayette in Indiana. “Though Aunt Marilyn is unable to understand this crisis or why we can’t come have lunch with her right now, being able to see us each week brings joy and laughter to her days. The virtual telehealth visits have given us, as well as her great niece’s, peace and comfort to see her and how well she is doing each week. We are especially grateful to all the heroes at Signature HealthCARE of Lafayette that assisted us in scheduling virtual time with Aunt Marilyn on her 87th birthday for her to see her great, great nephews and niece and the entire family.”

“We always knew that telehealth was such a key expansion of the long-term healthcare system,” said Joe Steier, CEO of Signature HealthCARE. “We now know it can be used in almost any circumstance – not just during a pandemic to connect family members together who may be miles away and unable to see their parents, grandparents or loved ones within our facilities. But, as the pandemic continued, we started to see even more needs that could be met with telehealth which we had not considered before and that we now know will change the landscape of medicine and person-directed care.”

COVID-19 has shown no mercy in terms of who it targets, and before telehealth, an asymptomatic doctor or primary care physician who tested positive for the virus wouldn’t have been able to see a patient. But the YourDoc2U platform has been used in that very circumstance. Quarantined doctors could use YourDoc2U in the safety of their home, and still connect with their patients, virtually face to face, without putting a facility or their residents at risk. Furthermore, it expanded a facility’s ability to connect with their medical directors and other providers, delivering various levels of care to their residents.

“We believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with our telehealth systems,” said Steier. “YourDoc2U and Signature HealthCARE are committed to continue expanding its capacity and potential in our healthcare system and the medical community for the improvement of living with purpose. We’re committed to that. It’s our mission.”

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