Telemedicine Proven To Increase Convenience and Decrease Costs In Nursing and LTC Facilities

Telemedicine Proven To Increase Convenience and Decrease Costs In Nursing and LTC Facilities

It’s 3 AM. The nurse on duty hears a heavy thud and races to room 317. An elderly resident, also diagnosed with dementia, moans as she lies on the floor. Mary is fully conscious, but her forehead hit the wall as she tripped on the way to the bathroom. Familiar with the patient’s age and medical history, the nurse knows to take no chances.

A trip to the ER is in order.

Transport vehicle? Check.
Accompanying staff member? Check.
Inform patient’s family? Check.

All in a night’s work.

The Reality

For the majority of residents at Nursing and LTC facilities, the center is their home. And leaving home, especially when heading to the ER or to any medical appointment, is never a leisure trip. Add the costs of transport and supplementary staff, and you’ve got a hassle.

“There’s a lot of literature that shows, especially in geriatrics, when you move somebody at two o’clock in the morning, it’s disruptive to them,” says Waseem Ghannam, MD, MBA, MHSA, a hospital medicine physician and CEO and co-founder of TeleHealth Solution.

“It’s very disruptive to their circadian rhythm versus that patient having a condition that you could potentially treat in place. How nice would it be that you could see them in their room remotely, examine them, prescribe a medication or treatment plan and update their family that [he or she] was taken care of in a concierge level manner almost immediately and at a much more cost-effective rate.”

The Good News: With Telemedicine This Can Become A Reality

For a rapidly growing percentage of long-term facilities and nursing homes in the country, heading out to the ER in the middle of the night (or day) to evaluate the injury’s severity in instances of falls, dementia, and other degenerative diseases, is a thing of the past.

Telemedicine, clinical care delivered remotely, adds a new dimension to the accomplishments of modern technology.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation research, 30 to 67% of hospitalizations of Skilled Nursing Facility residents, as well as many readmissions could be avoided by implementing Telehealth technologies. Add to that the possibility of having specialists from around the world meet with and diagnose patients virtually on-site at the facility, and you can understand  why Lorien Health Services earned Gold in McKnight’s Technological competition by virtue of their robust Telemedicine program.

In Action

Telemedicine at Lorien first began as a pilot program between the facility and the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Center in 2015. This program allowed residents, along with a nurse practitioner, to meet with attending physicians at the hospital or ED.

The Results: 34% reduction in 30-day hospital readmission rates!

Due to its outstanding success, Lorien implemented Telemedicine at additional facilities, as well.

“Providers adopting similar technologies will find they can approach care more predicatively, decreasing hospital admissions and readmissions rates, while increasing quality of care for their patients,” Lou Grimmel, CEO of Maryland-based Lorien Health Services, said.

The Value Breakdown

Telemedicine enables a floor nurse to simply turn to her computer, tablet or smartphone, and virtually meet with an expert physician 24/7, 365 days a year (no need to pull at anyone’s blanket).

Together, the patient’s nurse and an expert physician located anywhere in the world can make an informed medical decision based on the patient’s current symptoms and complete medical history.

The equipment can also include peripherals to collect patient data for an accurate diagnosis.

It’s a win-win.

More Telemedicine Success

During an interview, the CEO of Friedwald Center, a skilled nursing facility in New York, stated that welcoming Telemedicine into their skilled nursing facility has brought significant quality improvements. Among other benefits, hospital transfers for falls were reduced by a whopping 90%, and transfers for dementia by 83%!

“Many studies have shown that having readily available access to higher skilled clinicians directly results in better outcomes in patients’ diagnoses, whether it be acute or chronic,” said Michael Feist, VP of operations at the Friedwald Center.

“To have that diversity of skill is incredibly useful in the skilled nursing facility setting, and to give another resource to the facility – especially to the nurses who deal with these situations on a first-hand basis – is invaluable,” he added.

Effects On Your Bottom Line

Average annual savings to Medicare per nursing home using telemedicine is approximately $151,000, based on the average cost of Telemedicine usage in a single facility being about $30,000.

This amounts to $120,000 per year; funds that can be used to vastly improve your patient experience and alleviate budget strains.

In addition:

  • Avoid lost revenue of empty beds with reduced hospitalizations
  • Increase your market value by providing residents with cutting edge technology
  • Offer advanced specialty care and patient monitoring at a fraction of the cost

 Improved Patient Care

  • Access to specialists for quicker and more accurate diagnosis, evaluations, medication prescriptions and post-procedure follow-up care.
  • Better evaluate after-hours medical care in regard to evaluating “Treat or Transport” decisions.
  • Improve staff productivity with largely decreased patient transport needs.
  •  Provide family members peace of mind with the opportunity to participate in health  decisions of their loved ones, from any geographic location.

Nursing and LTC facilities are one of the last in the HealthCare industry implementing this technology. Yet, telemedicine has proven to be an inexpensive, and income and efficiency boosting tool for Nursing and Long Term Care Facilities.

For when residents are content, nursing staff fully supported, and income spiked upward; all is well on the home front.