MN Senate approves step to Minnesota becoming a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

The MN Senate Republican Caucasus reports…

The Minnesota Senate recently approved legislation that establishes Minnesota as a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Minnesota would join 39 other states and jurisdictions as members of the compact, which has been around for 20 years. Joining the NLC would allow Minnesota nurses to obtain a single license to work in multiple states. The licenses reflect the same high standards and safety of current state licensure, but provide a modern system that supports nurses and patients in giving and receiving the best care possible.

Hospitals and health care facilities across the state are struggling with severe staffing shortages. Joining the NLC will increase access to care, support telehealth, and help Minnesota be better prepared to meet health crises such as the pandemic. It will also increase our service for military individuals, spouses, and families. It will enable us to serve patients and families beyond our state boundaries.

From no telehealth visits to 3,500 per day within weeks at Essentia (Baxter MN)

Duluth News Tribune reports on telehealth at local at Essentia in Baxter…

Prior to March 2020, Essentia reported it had never conducted a virtual visit. But in a robust response to the pandemic, the health care provider was performing more than 3,500 per day within weeks. Two years later, they had about 645,000 telehealth visits.

The article goes on to give a nice glimpse of what that looks like for different patients. For folks with substance use disorders, depression and anxiety…

Staff at Essentia Health’s clinic in Baxter, Minnesota, said they were initially working with their technology services to add telehealth for patients who had substance use disorders, depression and anxiety. The goal was to disrupt their lives as little as possible while working with them to improve their health and their lives.

Then the pandemic hit and those telehealth visits expanded exponentially as a way to reduce exposure to the virus. The Baxter facility went from two rooms for virtual visits to six in the family practice clinic. Patients across the board are able to schedule virtual visits, or video appointments, and speak directly to their doctor using computers, tablets or smartphones.

For Nutritionists …

Nutritionists could see what people had to work with at home. Those who were working from home, with children at home or other family to care for, could still connect for a needed appointment. Older residents didn’t have to make the trip or feel they had to find someone to take them to an appointment. Those who may have had trouble getting time off from work could still do a check-in and consult with their primary care provider.

Hospitals in La Crosse and Mankato to get Tech upgrades

HeathCareBusiness reports on tech upgrades in hospitals La Crosse and Mankato. Telehealth can be a double edge sword in rural areas, it brings better healthcare to your home but it puts the local hospital in jeopardy. So it’s nice to see how two local non-metro hospitals are finding a middle ground of sorts by providing even better service online with technology…

Mayo Clinic Health System will build a new six-floor, 70-bed hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and expand and modernize the hospital in Mankato, Minnesota, by adding three new floors atop the existing building….

Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse and Mankato will have technology-enabled hospitals that foster a culture of excellence and equip staff with the latest tools to Cure, Connect and Transform community health care. These hospitals will incorporate telehealth, digital health and artificial intelligence technologies, along with design elements and efficiencies to support innovative care models and enhance the patient and staff experience for years to come.

Here are some details on the hospital improvements in Mankato…

The Mankato project features a 121-bed expansion. The project will include a three-floor vertical expansion atop the Emergency Department, Cancer Center and Specialty Clinic foyer.
Hospital floors within the new tower will link to the existing hospital and include:
A new and expanded ICU and Progressive Care Unit
A new Medical-Surgical Unit.
A new Family Birth Center, including Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, Triage, a cesarean surgical suite, and a Level 2 nursery.
The two projects constitute a $353 million investment in the future of Mayo Clinic Health System. Construction is expected to begin this spring at both locations and will be completed in 2024.

Nurse Licensure Compact would allow nurses licensure to span beyond state borders

The hard part about technology is not always the technology, sometimes it’s the user and sometimes it’s the policy. MN Senate Republican Caucus talk about getting nurses certification that help promote telehealth…

Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) was joined by a group of legislators and health care professionals today to spotlight legislation (SF 2302) that would have Minnesota join 39 other states as members of the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

The NLC is a national agreement that allows nurses in participating states to obtain one license that is valid across all member states. Nurses with an NLC license are able to practice quickly and easily in other NLC states, improving access to care, alleviating staff shortages, reducing costs, and eliminating unnecessary red tape.

A coalition of 60 organizations representing nurses, providers, telehealth supporters, and military family advocates supports Minnesota joining the NLC. Minnesota nurses overwhelmingly support joining the compact. A 2022 survey by the Minnesota Board of Nursing shows nurses favor Minnesota’s joining the compact by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1.

Telehealth services make students shortlist of legislative needs

Minnesota Daily reports

The Minnesota House Higher Education Committee convened five student groups from across the state, including the Minnesota Student Association (MSA), to talk about the upcoming session and what students want to see from legislators.

MSA Director of Government and Legislative Affairs Grace Johnson and Ranking Voting Member Carter Yost spoke on behalf of the group at the Feb. 2 meeting. Johnson and Yost highlighted increasing student minimum wage and public safety while also bringing up housing reform, expansion of telehealth services and amending the Board of Regents selection process.

The live reaction from legislators was relatively silent, with one of the 19 committee members asking Johnson and Yost questions after their testimony. Afterward, Yost said he heard from lawmakers.

“I received a few folks sending messages thanking me for being there and congratulating us on the advocacy,” Yost said. “It seems to me that there’s a general sense of elected officials really wanting to find that student input.”

Benefits of telehealth in the oncology world – for those with access

AJMC reports on the various benefits of telemedicine in the oncology world once COVID lower barriers of reimbursement, including weather resilience…

Rajini Katipamula-Malisetti, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist with Minnesota Oncology who practices in Coon Rapids, has seen telehealth’s usefulness up close. She spoke with Evidence-Based Oncology™ in December 2021, as the Omicron variant fueled another surge of COVID-19 cases and triggered another rise in hospitalizations.4 This happened as Minnesota reached the season when, in prior years, a wintry blast could wipe out an entire day’s schedule.

But now, schedulers at Minnesota Oncology know that if patients call to say they can’t come in because of a snowstorm, there’s a solution. “We’re just asking them to offer telehealth appointments,” Katipamula-Malisetti said. “We don’t want to cancel appointments.”

Better yet, the team can look at the forecast and proactively switch patients to telehealth appointments if a storm is coming. “It’s been really helpful,” she said.

… telemedicine reduces exposure to infection and makes staffing easier…

Having patients see their physician, social worker, or nutritionist via telehealth obviously reduces the opportunity for infection, but that’s not the only problem it solves, Katipamula-Malisetti said. Staffing shortages have emerged across health care, and Minnesota Oncology may not have staff at each clinic for every type of service. Telehealth helps address that: “There are certain specialties where we’re still leveraging telehealth significantly,” she said.

… telemedicine makes it easier to get family history when family can join the call…

Another example: a genetics session at which family history is taken—having multiple family members participate is a plus, she said. Depending on the practice or the insurer, telehealth was used for these visits even before the pandemic due to the relative scarcity of certified genetic counselors.4 She cited visits about nutrition as a third example.

The article outlines the best uses of telemedicine (based on survey results)…

The Minnesota Oncology experience with telehealth generally aligns with survey results reported at the most recent ASCO meeting, in May 2021. Only 3 types of visits were found appropriate for telehealth by more than 50% of the providers: discussions of imaging or laboratory results, chemotherapy education, and genetics counseling. More than 50% of survivors found visits on imaging or laboratory results or financial counseling to be appropriate; 90% of providers thought financial counseling was appropriate within the context of a broader visit on supportive care. Follow-up care found appropriate for telehealth by more than 50% of both providers and survivors included symptom management; for survivorship care, more than 50% of providers and survivors endorsed nutrition consultations and patient navigation via telehealth.

And notes that of course these benefits only apply when patients have access to broadband, devices and the skills to use them…

For all the positives that telehealth can offer, the question of whether all patients have the same access to technology has lingered since the start of the pandemic. The ASCO survey results showed that among survivors, 2.5% reported having no phone or no smartphone, 6.7% reported no or unreliable broadband or internet access, and 10.9% reported being uncomfortable using technology.

Telehealth proves helpful even before COVID

Grand Rapids Herald Review reports

Telehealth took off during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new study shows even people with serious mental health conditions can benefit from online appointments.

The findings are good news for rural folks who live miles away from psychiatrists and psychologists.

“This study showed that patients with multiple psychiatric conditions and who also struggle with several chronic physical health problems can engage well in mental health treatment with their primary care doctors or remote mental health specialists,” said study co-author Dr. Jennifer Severe, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

But it also showed that patients with drug problems and manic symptoms from bipolar disorder may need additional support to get started on psychotherapy or to stay with it, the researchers said.

The study was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, to see if people living far away from mental health care providers could benefit from telehealth services. The work was timely, given that many health care visits have moved online because of the pandemic.

Mayo Clinic’s mobile telehealth unit reaches 1000 visits

ABC News Rochester reports…

Mayo Clinic Health System’s mobile health clinic marked its one-thousandth patient appointment this month.
The mobile clinic launched in July of 2021, bringing year-round care closer to patients in rural communities in southern Minnesota.

The clinic is also celebrating ten thousand miles of travel among the four rural Minnesota communities it serves.

The mobile health clinic features two exam rooms, an on-site laboratory, and telehealth equipment to connect patients to specialty care.

EVENTS Feb 3-Mar 31: Can broadband help beat the winter blues? Maybe with Kairos Clubhouse!

Folks might remember Kairos Alive! , our most interactive partners at our first (2020) all online annual conference. They were the folks that got us jumping around and dancing between sessions. They have a weekly online program/concert/exercise series coming up that looks like fun. It might be a break in your business day and/or a chance to connect with loved ones who are more homebound, be that a grandparent, parent-of-a-newborn, or someone with compromised health issues. You can meet in the clubhouse…

Kairos Clubhouse!

Connect, Create, and Move for Wellbeing

Get your 9-week pass to the Clubhouse: Thursdays, February 3 – March 31, 2022, 10:30 – 11:15 AM Central and 1-1:45 PM Central. 

On Zoom and YouTube Live.

Experience joy, adventure, and friendship this spring in this 9-week research-based program from Kairos Alive. Building from over two decades of practice and expertise as performers, teachers, and artists, our work is informed by and contributes to a wide breadth of research ranging from social wellness, elder care, memory loss, and mental health. The Clubhouse will play with and explore music, dance, and storytelling from intercultural, intergenerational, and community-centered forms of art-making. Email for the Zoom link and information about the program.

MN hospital reduces postpartum hemorrhages 40% after retooling EHR

It’s great when we can calculate how technology improves how we live and while I understand this doesn’t require broadband to track this info – the move to remote care for as many people as possible during COVID means that every tool we have makes staying home safer. Becker’s Health IT reports

Robbinsdale, Minn.-based North Memorial Hospital used an EHR to create a screening tool that would predict, identify and guide postpartum hemorrhages, resulting in a 40 percent reduction, according to a Jan. 10 report in EpicShare.

North Memorial’s clinical practice committee analyzed data to determine which patients were at “high-risk” of hemorrhaging. The committee found that high-risk pregnancy didn’t always equate to hemorrhaging.

The committee then created a screening tool within Epic’s EHR system that would calculate a patient’s risk based on:

  • What type of birth it is: vaginal or C-sections, as C-sections have higher rates of hemorrhaging.
  • Where the placenta is: Placenta previa, or low-lying placenta, increases hemorrhage risk.
  • Hemoglobin measurements, or a low hematocrit measurement.
  • Any pre-existing conditions such as obesity or a bleeding disorder.

North Memorial  also used Epic to create a quantitative blood loss calculator to improve response time for hemorrhages.

Studies show telemedicine works well, experts still recommend in-person

Grand Rapids Herald Review reports…

Chatting with your doctor via video about your health issues works just as well as an in-person office visit, at least when it comes to managing chronic illnesses, a new review suggests.

Replacing office visits with video checkups delivered results that were just as effective for patients being treated for conditions like diabetes, respiratory illnesses, chronic pain, heart problems and neurological disorders, researchers reported recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“In general, the evidence shows that using video teleconferencing in health care results in outcomes that are just as good as and in some cases better than in-person care,” said lead researcher Jordan Albritton, a public health analyst with RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Despite these findings, experts maintain that in-person physical exams remain essential to quality health care, particularly for new patients who have just fallen ill.

Chemical Health Assessments available online in Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and Roseau

Crookston Times shares info on how folks with broadband can get chemical health support online…

In an effort to increase accessibility to treatment options, RiverView Recovery Center offer chemical health assessments, also known as Minnesota Rule 25, on a telehealth basis over the Zoom application.

A chemical health assessment is the first step in receiving treatment and is often a requirement for those in the court system. The assessment helps determine whether the individual needs treatment and if so, what type of treatment will be most beneficial.

Telehealth assessments are provided at various times and on various days, originating from all four of the RiverView Recovery locations (Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, and Roseau). The assessment takes approximately two hours and is done by licensed staff.

RiverView Recovery Center accepts most insurances, credit/debit cards, check, or cash. Discounts may apply. For more information on a chemical health assessment or other services offered over telehealth at RiverView Recovery Center, call 281-9511.

Hy-Vee is launching low-cost telehealth and online pharmacy services

KTTC Rochester reports…

Hy-Vee, Inc. is launching a new national subsidiary that will provide low-cost telehealth, online pharmacy services, and direct shipping of prescribed treatments to patients’ homes throughout the U.S.

RedBox Rx will make it easy for people to get treatment offering quick, easy and discreet access to a provider who can prescribe prescription medication that is then shipped for free directly to the patient.

Find services offered here:

MN Hospitals receive funding from FCC for telehealth

Fox9 reports

St. Paul’s Regions Hospital is receiving $1 million of federal funding for telehealth services.

The funding comes from the Federal Communications Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced Thursday. It will be used to buy a remote patient care telehealth platform.

“The pandemic has shown us how telehealth services have been a lifeline for patients across Minnesota who may otherwise not be able to access the health care they need,” said Smith in the press release. “This funding will help Regions Hospital continue to use telehealth to make health care accessible to patients who are unable to get services in person.”

Along with the $1 million for Regions Hospital, Klobuchar and Smith secured funding for the expansion of telehealth services for these health providers in Minnesota:

  • $21,533 for Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis
  • $498,818 for Minnesota Community Care in St. Paul
  • $234,352 for CentraCare Health System, the largest provider for rural Minnesota communities
  • $120,305 for Nett Lake Health Services in northern Minnesota
  • $981,204 for Essentia Health in Duluth

The funds will allow providers to expand patient access by purchasing more telehealth equipment like laptops and monitoring devices, as well as increase wireless broadband coverage at several clinics.

Senator Carla Nelson outlines improvements tele mental health and broadband

The Post Bulletin shares Senator Carla Nelson’s blueprint for mental health, including an update on improvements in telehealth…

We made several other key advancements this session to improve the speed and effectiveness with which Minnesota provides support to Minnesotans working to improve their mental health.

This year’s final health and human services bill contained important funding that will help us accomplish this goal:

  • We permanently expanded Telehealth access to include mental health and substance use disorders. I have long been an author of Telehealth legislation, beginning with the very first telehealth bill, and we will continue to pursue advancements so every Minnesotan has affordable access to the health services they need, when and where they need them.

  • We provided funding to prioritize the mental and behavioral health needs of Minnesota youth, and established individual treatment plans for children in outpatient services. This was part of the YOUTH Act that I authored this year to help Minnesota better support children in crisis.

  • We provided additional funding in this year’s jobs and economic growth bill to expand broadband access in underserved and unserved communities to help close gaps in access to important services like telehealth.