Dartmouth-Hitchcock Center for Connected Care to Launch Pilot Virtualist Program with Littleton Regional Healthcare

February 11, 2020

Program will offer virtual consultations in high-demand specialties to patients at their local hospitals.

Lebanon, NH - The Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Center for Connected Care is preparing to launch a Virtualist Pilot Program with eight local hospitals in New Hampshire, including Littleton Regional Healthcare, to provide patients with prompt access to specialty care which may not be available locally.

Virtualists are board-certified specialty physicians who treat patients in a ‘virtual' setting using telehealth technology. With D-H's Virtualist Pilot Program, physicians in high-demand specialties such as gastroenterology, pulmonology and infectious disease will offer consultations to adult patients at their local hospitals via D-H's Center for Telehealth at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon. As the D-H Virtualist Pilot Program progresses, cardiology consultations will be added.

Using Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA)-compliant software, D-H Virtualists will meet with patients and conduct two-way interactive audiovisual assessments and recommendations. The Virtualists will work collaboratively with the local providers and patient care teams with the ultimate goal of keeping patients local whenever possible.

"The D-H Virtualist Pilot Program grew out of an increasing demand for consultations in certain specialties, which would often require patients to travel to a tertiary care center, such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center," said Kevin Curtis, MD, MS, medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Center for Telehealth. "We are excited to pilot this new element of telemedicine, working in tandem with the outstanding care teams at Littleton Regional Healthcare, to offer patients who require specialty care the opportunity to receive that care close to home."

The D-H Virtualist Pilot Program will be available to patients Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Robert Nutter, President & CEO at Littleton Regional Healthcare added, "We are fortunate to be able to work with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on the Virtualist Pilot Program, and look forward to making this service line available to our patients and their families. This will allow patients to receive care close to home without having to travel a lengthy distance which is important in a rural setting. Transportation is one of the leading issues when it comes to access to healthcare - this service addresses this need."

Hospitals and health systems across the country are facing increased pressures - from lack of beds and overcrowding, to changing reimbursement models and declining numbers of specialists. In rural communities, the shortage is especially acute. Telehealth, and programs such as D-H's Virtualist Pilot Program, can help hospitals increase access to evidence-based care by providing their in-house clinical teams with specialty support.

With nearly two million people residing in rural communities across northern New England, telemedicine will play an increasingly vital role in providing patients with access to the care they need within their own communities.

The D-H Center for Connected Care was founded in 2012 with a primary objective of helping to deliver outstanding health care to the region independent of a patient's physical location. D-H telehealth services are designed to drive accessible, efficient and effective care by complementing and enhancing existing programs and services provided in local communities. D-H's Connected Care telehealth program currently serves more than 20 hospitals in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, providing services such as TeleEmergency, TeleICN (Intensive Care Neonatology), TeleNeurology, TelePharmacy, TelePsychiatry, TeleSpecialty and TeleUrgent Care in addition to TeleICU.

DARTMOUTH-HITCHCOCK HEALTH (D-HH), New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across Northern New England. D-H provides access to more than 2,400 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named in 2019 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 13 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health also includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state's only children's hospital; affiliated member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-H system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Lisa Cramb
O: 603-644-3200 ext. 25
M: 603-689-6986
lcramb@montagnecom.com

Rick Adams
O: 603-653-1910
M: 603-359-2497
rick.adams@hitchcock.org

Littleton Regional Healthcare
Gail Clark
O: 603.444.9304
M: 603.759.1023

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