What are the advantages of telehealth nursing?
The landscape of healthcare is changing at a rapid pace. Skilled nursing and long-term care facilities are quickly adopting telemedicine to address readmission rates and improve in-facility patient care. The evolution of medical technology advances are on the incline and demanding long-term care organizations to transform and stay on pace with the highly competitive market. The implementation and use of telemedicine is now a key component to their success and sustainability.
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), in particular, can benefit tremendously from health IT. According to research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 to 67% of hospitalizations among SNF residents could be avoided with interventions such as telehealth technologies. Readmission rates, among many other factors, can be changed when telemedicine becomes an integral part of the care cycle.
Telemedicine programs have been designed to help healthcare professionals provide the best quality care for their patients, enhance consumer satisfaction and make the entire healthcare system more efficient. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of telehealth nursing:
1. An ability to provide specialized care
Patients with issues requiring medical specialists may turn to a SNF for quality care, according to the Allegheny County Bar Association. That means the facility will see multiple residents per day who require assistance that exceeds the average visit to the doctor or primary care physician. When a specialization is involved, patients expect care providers to have the necessary skills and tools to provide appropriate care at the times they need it, which can’t always be achieved when the traditional, manual practice is involved. Patients who reside in SNFs may need assistance from a highly-skilled professional, but have to wait because it is the middle of the night or the specialist’s office is hours away and they don’t have the resources to travel for an in-person consultation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 60% of adults in the U.S. live with some sort of chronic disease. Many who reside in SNFs have one or more conditions and expect quality care to keep their health under control. By using telemedicine, healthcare professionals, SNFs have the opportunity to consult with specialists from afar and assist in treating such chronic conditions at the critical times when their conditions might flare. Not only does this keep resident patients within the facility – to reduce readmission rates – but it also reduces the need for them to travel from one location to the next for care. Transportation itself can be a time-consuming and expensive task, and telemedicine can eliminate the need to move between care facilities.
2. An advantage in the competitive market
When SNFs implement telemedicine, they’re setting themselves apart from competitors who don’t give prospective families innovative options for communication. They are also positioning themselves to be much more attractive to referring hospitals because they will have much lower readmission rates than a facility without telemedicine.
The ability for patients to connect with specialists from afar is just one of the advantages of telehealth nursing.
Quality care means everything to the patient and his or her family, but convenience is another important factor when it comes to healthcare options. According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, telemedicine is not only a unique way for residents to reach out to their providers, but it’s also a convenient option when care is needed.
This holds true for any SNF resident, but it’s especially critical for those who reside in areas where access to care isn’t as readily available. Telemedicine has the ability to connect providers with patients who live in rural and remote areas who would otherwise have to travel long distances for care. Consider the stress and annoyance that comes with going to the doctor’s office for a quick check-up. Now, weave in the fact that there’s an elongated distance and all you need is a second opinion on a rash or other unusual symptoms that could technically be harmless. When nursing facilities offer appropriate care through telehealth, the need to travel from one care setting to the next gets eliminated, giving your facility the competitive edge that entices patients and encourages them to continue visiting your facility for care.
3. Increased savings
Annually, Medicare spends billions on hospitalizations. According to the 2019 Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare benefit payments amounted to $731 billion last year, up from $462 billion in 2008. Not only does this put an undeniable stress on those who need it, but it also weighs heavily on providers across the nation.
Implementing telemedicine, however, can reduce these costs, according to a report in Health Affairs. The researchers found that the average savings to Medicare for a nursing home that used telemedicine are $151,000 per year. In the study, the average cost of telemedicine use for a single nursing home was about $30,000, which means that telemedicine-engaged facilities would save around $120,000 every year. These savings can alleviate high stress levels and allow facilities to use resources elsewhere to benefit their patients in need.
4. Improved patient outcomes
The top priority of all healthcare providers is to provide top-quality care and ensure all patients are satisfied with services. A study analysis by Texas State University found that improved patient outcomes, preferred modality, ease of use, low cost, improved communication and decreased travel time, in order, were among the most important factors in the effectiveness and efficiency of care quality and satisfaction within a care facility. While this exact use case relates to doctors, all of these factors that correlate to telemedicine and the way it can enhance the patient experience can also impact nurses.
According to OncologyNurseAdvisor.com, a 6-month telehealth program for patients with advanced cancer demonstrated that oncology nurses were able to provide much more support beyond the traditional follow-up phone call by utilizing telehealth solutions. Access to such technology directly improved patient outcomes. Lana Adzhigirey, RN of CHI Franciscan Health in Tacoma, Washingtion, and chair of the American Telemedicine Association Nursing Interest Group said, “In the case of tele-oncology, it can extend the benefits of multidisciplinary care to regional and rural patients and provide critical care and services to cancer patients including remote chemotherapy supervision, symptom management, survivorship care, and palliative care.”
5. Improved patient engagement
One of the most important factors in quality care is an increased desire to remain engaged as a patient. When patients are cognitive about their health and are intrigued in taking necessary steps to improve their overall health, the care delivery process becomes easier and more efficient.
Today, technological advances are more relevant than ever before and will only continue to be a major staple in our everyday lives. In SNFs, telemedicine and mobile health options are allowing residents in SNFs to be more conscious of their health and make decisions on their own, increasing awareness and making them more engaged throughout the care cycle. While some older adults may be on the fence when it comes to technology, there’s an increased need to show them the benefits of telemedicine and how it can improve patient engagement in comparison to traditional care delivery.
“There needs to be certain messaging talking about mobile health. Your loved ones and caregivers are out for your best interests, and this solution will only help those around you provide high-quality care,” Health Tech magazine writer Brian Eastwood explained. “What’s important is how we engage with the patients and meaningfully connect with them to receive the information that’s important to them.”
Telehealth nursing with AMD Global Telemedicine
With the many advantages of telehealth nursing, there’s no better time to consider implementation than now. AMD Global Telemedicine thrives in developing solutions that can help facilities reduce hospitalizations and improve in-facility patient care. With the telemedicine solutions designed specifically for skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, your organization can successfully weather market changes and provide the quality care that helps your patients feel more engaged and satisfied with their care.