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Cleveland Clinic to open first telehealth hub at new Mentor Hospital

Telehealth technology is in each of the patient rooms at Mentor Hospital.
Marty Carrick
Cleveland Clinic
Telehealth technology is in each of the patient rooms at the Clinic's new Mentor Hospital in Lake County.

The Cleveland Clinic is opening a hospital in Mentor where every patient could potentially consult remotely with a doctor located in a different location.

The Clinic’s new approximately $80 million hospital serving Lake and northern Geauga counties will be a hub for telemedicine — the first facility of its kind for the health system, according to the Clinic.

Patients will be able to go to the new facility, opening in two weeks, and see a Clinic specialist who may be working at another hospital 45 minutes away.

Each of the 57 inpatient and outpatient rooms will have the telehealth technology, said Nicholas Anstine, the administrative director for the Cleveland Clinic's Regional Hospitals.

“Anywhere we have subject matter expertise, it enables a patient to immediately connect with that resource," he said. "And, of course, we'll have people on site. We can't go fully telemedicine."

Telehealth has become a promising solution for patients in rural communities, who live further from medical specialists, and to address shortages of behavioral health workers, said Thomas Campanella, health care executive in residence at Baldwin Wallace University.

Now more hospitals in or near urban centers are also embracing the technology as a way to expand into the communities they don’t already serve, he said.

Telemedicine brings more benefits than just a closer location, Campanella said. Doctors are able to show charts and data on screen that may be easier for patients to engage with.

But there are also possible pitfalls.

"On the other hand, it's like anything else, it depends on how it's utilized," he said. "If it's strictly utilized as an additional revenue source, or if it's strictly utilized as a way to reduce costs, but not necessarily better care, then that's where you're going to have the concerns."

Campanella said some studies show telehealth can lead to similar patient outcomes as onsite visits, but he said more research needs to be done.

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the rate at which providers were integrating telehealth, said Anstine. The Clinic is about 10 years ahead of its previous projects to incorporate telemedicine.

Mentor Hospital will open July 11.

Taylor Wizner is a health reporter with Ideastream Public Media.