Question: Our hospital provides 24/7 telemedicine services to community hospitals, primarily in EDs, to assist with the evaluation of patients with symptoms of an acute stroke. The goal of this program is to enhance stroke care in the region through staff education, shared clinical protocols and rapid assessment of the patient by one of our neurovascular specialists with expertise not available within the community. There is no charge to the community hospitals or patients for this service. The target population is patients in community hospitals with acute stroke symptoms, regardless of their insurance coverage.
Recommendation: We recommend first carefully analyzing why this program is being provided. Was the reason for starting and continuing it to respond to an identified community health need or was the primary purpose to gain referrals or other benefit to the hospital? If the primary purpose of the program is to address an identified community health need, we recommend reporting this as an "in–kind" contribution in the category of "E. Cash and In-kind Contributions." You are providing the service to other organizations, not directly to patients, and services to other organizations should be reported in this category.