FREDERICK, Okla._A new approach to health care is coming to the hospital in Frederick by the end of the year.
Like many hospitals in rural areas, they're limited in some of the more specialized services they can offer, which means many doctors will send their patients for treatment at larger medical centers. As a result, they're now looking at taking a more active role in treating patients before they need more specialized care.
It's a pilot program, approved by the state legislature last session, and it's expected to be implemented this fall. If it goes as expected, several small hospitals in the state will likely change the way they approach patient care.
The hospital coordinator of the Frederick hospital, Paul Carpenter, says the hospital would focus on the 60 percent of people in the general population who have a pre-chronic condition, such as high blood pressure.
They would encourage patients to come to them for treatment that will keep them healthy, and prevent their conditions from worsening, which would force a long hospital stay. This would save not only insurance companies, but also the patients themselves.
"We can treat a pre-chronic hypertensive patient for about $4 a month. Once they become hypertensive, they will stay in the hospital for two or three times a year. They are going to be on major medication that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," Carpenter explained.
Doctors use the slogan, "spend money now to save money later" when reasoning with the insurance companies about this system.
Carpenter says someone at the hospital will call the patient at home to "make sure they got their prescriptions filled and that the treatment is working."
They are also working to be more convenient when it comes to patient needs. That includes being ready anywhere through Telehealth of Oklahoma. This would give patients an opportunity to see doctors near and far.
"We do it all the time on our iPhones and iPads where we Skype, we have those face-to-face talks. We can do it in medicine, and they are creating that ability to do that for us now," Carpenter explained.
Carpenter hopes that opportunity will be available in about two months. The hospital is also expanding its physical therapy practice, so that it could serve all of Tillman County.