How to Leverage Telehealth-Enabled Remote Patient Monitoring Services

How to Leverage Telehealth-Enabled Remote Patient Monitoring Services

Telehealth-Enabled Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is gaining new traction, and for good reason. During the pandemic, many hospitals have used telehealth to monitor patients remotely within the hospital. While not a classic example of traditional Remote Patient Monitoring, it has become an innovative way to keep staff safe and limit the spread of the virus. 

 

Now that Telehealth has been widely implemented across the country, many patients have already embraced virtual care. This is the perfect time for providers to get a full-scale remote patient monitoring program in place. While most understand the role of RPM in chronic care management, there are other areas where RPM can make a meaningful impact.

 

Chronic disease management 

According to research, RPM can reduce hospitalizations by 35% and visits to the emergency room for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Chronic Heart Failure by 68%. The ability to constantly monitor a patient’s condition regardless of the patient’s location allows providers to intervene before complications occur. This, in turn, helps reduce hospitalizations, readmissions, and ED visits. The result is more effective chronic disease management, improved outcomes and repayment, and an enhanced patient experience.

 

73% of total healthcare spending goes toward managing chronic conditions. As our nation ages, RPM will play an even greater role in the healthcare continuum.

 

Post-operative care 

Nearly 20% of patients experience some type of adverse event within the first three weeks after being discharged from a hospital or emergency department, most of which are preventable. Providers can continuously monitor and evaluate these patients during this critical period after discharge using RPM—whether in the patient’s home or at another care facility. Providers can quickly identify problematic symptoms and trends and intervene to prevent complications. This proactivity allows patients to be stable, happy, and on the road to recovery.

 

Two-thirds of annual ED visits—or 18 million visits—for privately insured people in the U.S. are avoidable.

 

Rural healthcare 

Approximately 46 million Americans live in rural areas. Yet, there are just 39.8 physicians for every 100,000 of these individuals. A recent survey found that 25% of people living in rural areas say there are times they can’t get the healthcare they need. These statistics may explain why they are at greater risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, and accidental injury. RPM can expand much-needed access to care for our rural populations by removing the barriers put in place by transportation and proximity. Simultaneously, this enables health systems to expand their service area and brand recognition.

 

Devices  for Telehealth-Enabled Remote Patient Monitoring

In addition to the broad adoption of telehealth technology, the use of wearable devices also continues to rise. Pew Research states that nearly one in five Americans now uses a fitness tracker or smartwatch. This popularity in wearable devices is a trend that is continuing to grow. Subsequently, the features of wearable devices are becoming more sophisticated, which will only increase the opportunities for RPM. Besides devices like pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and EKG monitors, there are now innovative devices like sensory insoles. These insoles monitor skin temperature for diabetic foot ulcers and infections.

Wearable health monitoring devices continue to evolve. Their ability to continuously monitor multiple vitals and automatically transmit data to the provider allows for faster interventions. These wearables are key to a successful RPM program and the success of chronic disease management.

 

The time to act is now 

 

Together, telehealth technology and Remote Patient Monitoring present a great opportunity to improve outcomes and truly transform the patient experience. Getting started on implementing an RPM program doesn’t require a large investment in IT or recourses. VidyoHealth can help.  

 

VidyoHealth, powered by Andor Health, is built for end-to-end digital healthcare delivery. Our solutions help providers reach more patients across the care continuum regardless of their location. With video-enabled virtual care solutions, providers can better manage chronic disease cases with Remote Patient Monitoring, while reducing avoidable readmissions, and improving patient satisfaction. VidyoHealth provides an immersive easy-to-use telemedicine platform to support collaborative interdisciplinary care, improved patient outcomes, and lasting cost savings. 

 

How is Telehealth Used in Healthcare post-COVID-19?

How is Telehealth Used in Healthcare post-COVID-19?

 A recent press release issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that Medicare telehealth visits increased from approximately 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million in 2020, a 63-fold increase.[1] The release reiterated that Medicare services approved for telehealth during the pandemic “will remain in place through December 31, 2023, while CMS continues to evaluate whether these services should be permanently added to the Medicare telehealth services list.”[2] The CMS had previously announced it will continue to cover mental health visits delivered by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. This includes interactive video-based telehealth and audio-only phone calls.[3]

 

While we wait on the CMS to determine its long-term telehealth reimbursement strategy, there is no denying that telehealth services are cost-effective, enable greater access to care, and are an efficient format for delivering high-quality care. In fact, a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that telehealth can deliver “as good as or better than usual care” outcomes for specific populations.[4] In other words, we now have proof that telehealth works; it’s no longer just a concept.

 

Since most hospitals and provider practices already have telehealth workflows in place and patients have, for the most part, embraced virtual care, it’s now time to identify how best to optimize telehealth ongoing—regardless of what the CMS eventually decides to do.[5]

 

Behavioral Healthcare

Of all providers, behavioral healthcare practitioners saw the highest utilization rates for telehealth during the pandemic—a 32-fold increase over pre-pandemic rates.[6] This is significant. Of the more than 51 million Americans living with a mental illness, fewer than half receive the treatment they need.[7] The pandemic only exacerbated the need—a need that won’t magically disappear once the pandemic has gone.

 

Telehealth can be used to assess, triage, diagnose, and treat behavioral health conditions at any time from any location. This means patients can get the appropriate treatment faster. For patients without access to convenient transportation, or for those living in areas with few behavioral health resources, telehealth helps fill the gap.

 

Remote Patient Diagnostics and Virtual Collaboration

Telehealth is especially beneficial in bringing together a high-quality virtual care team, no matter where the patient is located—in the hospital, at home, or at another care facility. In settings like the emergency department, having quick access to specialists can help eliminate delays in care.

 

Telehealth can effectively bring the patient, physicians, counselors and the patient’s family together in real time to discuss symptoms and to perform assessments and diagnoses. It also enables patients and their families to ask questions and provide input, which enables better understanding and adherence to the care plan.

 

Post-discharge Care

A study published by the AHRQ found that nearly 20% of patients experience some type of adverse event within the first three weeks after being discharged from a hospital, with the majority of those events being preventable.[8] The top three issues identified were adverse drug events, hospital-acquired infections, and procedural complications.

 

The same study found that additional “discharge hazards” came from patients being discharged while test results were pending, or that they were released needing an outpatient “diagnostic follow-up.” Telehealth can effectively address these issues by giving hospitals and primary care physicians the ability to remotely monitor and care for these patients in the critical days after discharge.

 

How are providers using telehealth right now

It’s estimated that 73% of our total healthcare dollars is spent caring for patients with multiple chronic conditions.[9] That number is even higher for Medicare. The majority of these costs come from “acute care hospital and emergency department (ED) visits that could be prevented with earlier intervention.” Remote patient monitoring and chronic condition management can help.

 

Research shows that remote patient monitoring can reduce hospitalizations by 35% and visits to the emergency department by 68% for patients with Chronic Obstructive pulmonary Disease or Chronic Heart Failure.[10] In addition to improving outcomes, remote patient monitoring and chronic care management programs present significant revenue potential, especially when care is provided by non-physician staff such as registered nurses.[11]

 

 

How has telehealth changed and grown due to the COVID-19 situation?

Telehealth can help reduce costs, improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and improve provider satisfaction—an important benefit in a time when stress levels are through the roof and so many healthcare workers are leaving their jobs. In a survey by the COVID-19 HealthCare Coalition, 55% of providers said telehealth has improved their job satisfaction, 60% said it has improved the health of their patients, and 80% said it has improved timeliness of care for their patients.[12]

 

The bottom line is that we can’t wait for the CMS to decide on how telehealth has changed during COVID . More forward-thinking hospitals and provider organizations are choosing to move forward with their own long-term strategy for telehealth. The benefits are too great to wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/12/03/new-hhs-study-shows-63-fold-increase-in-medicare-telehealth-utilization-during-pandemic.html

[2] https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/12/03/new-hhs-study-shows-63-fold-increase-in-medicare-telehealth-utilization-during-pandemic.html

[3] https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/calendar-year-cy-2022-medicare-physician-fee-schedule-final-rule

[4] https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/products/telehealth-expansion/white-paper

[5] https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/telemedicine-during-covid-19-benefits-limitations-burdens-adaptation

[6] https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/12/03/new-hhs-study-shows-63-fold-increase-in-medicare-telehealth-utilization-during-pandemic.html

[7] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness

[8] https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/readmissions-and-adverse-events-after-discharge

[9] https://www.mgma.com/resources/revenue-cycle/chronic-care-management-leveraging-a-significant

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834207/

[11] https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M14-2677

[12] https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nationwide-survey-finds-physician-satisfaction-with-telehealth/

Establishing A Virtual Care Center To Streamline Operations And Enhance Patient Care At Your Clinic

Establishing A Virtual Care Center To Streamline Operations And Enhance Patient Care At Your Clinic

We’ve all experienced firsthand how remote healthcare has enabled safe, consistent, high-quality care since the beginning of the pandemic. Now the question becomes how to best leverage all the technology and workflows that are now in place to bring sustainable improvements ongoing. A great place to start is implementing a coordinated virtual care center (VCC).

A VCC drives operational efficiencies by providing a single point of access—a “command center”—and centralized resource management. This helps ensure patients receive the highest quality care, from triage to diagnosis to referral to remote healthcare and monitoring. This can be challenging to accomplish with standalone telehealth point solutions. Having a centralized command center reduces capability and functional gaps that could decelerate your overall telehealth efforts.

Even just a few multi-screen workstations installed in centralized locations are enough to get started. When you centralized your virtual care center into a single command center, you improve resource allocation and lower costs, driving near immediate improvement in operational efficiencies. This model also enables you to easily monitor quality and measure effectiveness of your programs.

 

Care collaboration

Having a virtual care center in place greatly enhances care collaboration by enabling real-time communication between staff, providers, specialists, patients and patient families. This keeps everyone on the same page in regard to the patient’s care plan, which helps improve patient care and reduce errors and enhance adherence. This real-time engagement can give both the patient and the patient’s family greater peace of mind, which can improve patient satisfaction.

 

Post-discharge monitoring

According to research from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (PHRQ), nearly 20% of patients experience some type of adverse event in just the first three weeks after discharge from a hospital or emergency department, most of which are preventable.[1] Having a virtual care center in place can reduce the likelihood of complications and readmissions by enabling clinics and acute care facilities to remotely monitor these patients at home throughout this critical post-discharge period.

 

Remote patient monitoring

Clinics with a large population of patients with chronic conditions can use a VCC to more effeciently monitor these patients. This can be especially beneficial for patients with complex conditions like chronic heart failure, COPD, and diabetes. Together with remote healthcare devices like pulse oximeters, EKG devices and glucose monitors, a VCC enables clinics to quickly identify problematic issues and proactively intervene. The result is improved chronic disease management, reduced readmissions, and improved outcomes and reimbursement.

 

The importance of video in a Virtual Care Centers

The value of video in the success of a VCC cannot be overstated. Video closely mirrors the experience of face-to-face interactions. This is extremely important in the delivery of personalized care outside of the clinic. High quality 4k video provides true-to-life color, motion and skin tone for more effective assessments. It’s also important to offer patients a single-click video experience using devices they already have available, such as tablets, smartphones, or desktop computers.

 

When video is integrated into remote healthcare, it can help improve patient outcomes, reduce the cost of care delivery, and generate a positive return on investment across the care continuum.

 

Success story

Mercy, the sixth largest Catholic health system in the U.S., is a prime example of how a VCC can impact operations and patient care. Mercy integrated Vidyo conferencing software into its central TeleICU command center, SafeWatch. Powered by Vidyo and Philips® eCare Manager, SafeWatch provides around-the-clock telemedicine monitoring of critically ill patients at 15 different hospitals. Over 450 Philips TeleICU monitored beds have been equipped with Vidyo enabling Mercy’s critical care doctors and nurses to observe and visually communicate with ICU patients, their families and bedside healthcare staff from a central command center. As a result, Mercy was able to reduce mortality rates by 40%.

 

Having a VCC enables patients to receive high quality medical consultations regardless of their location. This leads to more accurate assessments and triage, and more timely access to appropriate care.

 

Enabling your VCC

VidyoHealth is built for end-to-end digital healthcare delivery. We help clinics easily reach more patients across the care continuum while improving operational efficiencies and lowering costs. With a video-enabled VCC, clinics can improve care collaboration, reduce readmissions and post-discharge complications, better manage populations with chronic disease, and enhance the patient experience.  

 

 

 

[1] https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/readmissions-and-adverse-events-after-discharge

Four ways telemedicine software is improving collaboration and enhancing patient care

Four ways telemedicine software is improving collaboration and enhancing patient care

The past year and a half has brought rapid digital transformation to healthcare organizations across the U.S. Most hospitals, physician practices and specialty providers implemented some form of telehealth early in the pandemic. It’s become an essential part of provider workflows and widely accepted by both staff and patients. Now is the time to ask “what’s next” for digital technology and to look for opportunities to operationalize it in a way that better serves both the organization and the patient.

Telehealth software is a great opportunity as it enables more effective, collaborative interdisciplinary care. This, in turn, reduces gaps in care, lowers costs, improves outcomes, and enhances the patient experience.  The following are four benefits of telemedicine, showing how the software can improve collaboration

 

1. Improves quality of care

Digital technology such as telemedicine software expands access to the best care providers. This is especially important in rural or underserved communities or in cases where a highly specialized provider is needed. Patients don’t have to wait for a provider to visit the hospital; they can get more timely care via a virtual visit. Remote specialists can conduct assessments and consultations from any location. Other care providers, as well as the patient’s family, can be conferenced in during the visit, which improves care collaboration and helps ensure better adherence to the care plan.

 

2. Enhances Virtual Rounding

An effective rounding process improves patient care and reduces errors by keeping everyone in the care team on the same page. Telehealth software technology takes rounding to the next level by enabling real-time communication between staff, providers, specialists, patients, and patient families. This means everyone has the opportunity to ask questions, review vitals, and ensure everyone understands the care plan. This real-time engagement can give both the patient and the patient’s family greater peace of mind, which can improve patient satisfaction.

 

3. Enables Post-acute Monitoring

The benefits of telemedicine goes even further. The technology can even provide patients with greater access to the right provider, whether the patient is at home or at another healthcare facility. This allows for more proactive interventions when issues arise. This is especially important during transitions of care, such as when a patient is discharged from a hospital. According to research from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), nearly 20% of patients experience some type of adverse event in the first three weeks after discharge from a hospital or emergency department, most of which are preventable.[1] Telemedicine software can reduce the likelihood of complications and readmissions by enabling hospitals, physicians and specialists to remotely monitor patients at home or elsewhere throughout this critical recovery period.

 

4. Supports Optimal Staffing Levels

Having the right level of coverage with the most qualified employees helps ensure optimal outcomes. Digital technology such as video conferencing can help by enabling a more effective hybrid staffing model. Many organizations are struggling with a shortage of healthcare workers. While not all staff positions can be done remotely, many can. Digital technology can be used to streamline and enhance collaboration across remote and onsite employees. This can help in recruitment and retention efforts as well. Research shows that companies that offer employees the option of remote work can lower absenteeism by 41% and reduce turnover by 12%.[2] It also removes the need to hire local talent and opens up a larger pool of qualified candidates from which to choose.

 

Telemedicine Software Success Story

Mercy, the sixth largest Catholic health systems in the U.S., integrated VidyoHealth’s telehealth software into its central TeleICU command center, SafeWatch. Powered by VidyoHealth and Philips® eCare Manager, SafeWatch provides around-the-clock telemedicine monitoring of critically ill patients at 15 different hospitals. Over 450 Philips TeleICU monitored beds have been equipped with VidyoHealth enabling Mercy’s critical care doctors and nurses to watch over and visually communicate with ICU patients, their families and bedside healthcare staff from a central command center.

VidyoHealth is leading the charge in the way telemedicine software is being used. Our technology allows video to be integrated into various telehealth platforms, networks and devices. A shining example of this is Mercy’s SafeWatch system, powered by VidyoHealth. Mercy’s SafeWatch is the largest single-hub TeleICU in the country. Spanning across four states, 15 hospitals and monitoring close to 500 Philips TelelCU beds, this new telehealth service enables specialists to continually monitor critical patients and data, and interact via VidyoHealth with bedside medical teams, ICU patients and their families from one central command center. Deployed across a geographical region traditionally known to be difficult for patients to receive quick, acute healthcare and medical consultations due to its rural nature, VidyoHealth’s integration into Mercy’s SafeWatch system helps to provide timely, personalized care regardless of physical distance.

Wendy Deibert, RN, BSN, VP of Telehealth Services at Mercy says, “Now that we’re on one platform with VidyoHealth, we’re able to seamlessly go in, whether I am from the eICU perspective or whether I’m a physician at a distance from a telestroke perspective, we’re all using the same platform.”

“I think Mercy’s been given a real opportunity to be on the forefront of a new technology that 10 years from now is going to be standard care.” Dr. Thomas Hale, Executive Director, Medical Center for Innovation and Telehealth Services, Mercy

 

VidyoHealth is built for end-to-end digital healthcare delivery. We help providers easily reach more patients across the care continuum. Learn why more than 4,000 healthcare providers trust VidyoHealth. Browse the site to learn more about VidyoHealth.

 

[1] https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/readmissions-and-adverse-events-after-discharge

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2020/02/12/top-5-benefits-of-remote-work-for-companies/?sh=68de894e16c8

Leveraging a Hybrid Workforce Model to Resolve Staffing Shortages in Healthcare

Leveraging a Hybrid Workforce Model to Resolve Staffing Shortages in Healthcare

The current surge in COVID-19 cases has highlighted critical staffing shortages in the healthcare industry. While shortages already existed prior to the pandemic, the problem has only escalated as so many healthcare workers have chosen to leave their positions for less stressful jobs.[1] There is, however, a potential solution that could help alleviate healthcare staffing issues, one that other industries have already embraced: Virtual work.

 

The work-from-home movement, initially implemented due to COVID social distancing mandates, has taken a permanent place in many companies. Organizations have realized that remote workers are often happier and produce the same amount of work, if not more. Research reported by Forbes outlines five ways remote work is beneficial for companies across sectors.[2] These include:

 

  1. Productivity — Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.
  2. Performance — With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.
  3. Engagement — Higher productivity and performance combine to create stronger engagement, or in other words, 41% lower absenteeism. 
  4. Retention — 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered. 
  5. Profitability — Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.

 

Research conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services concurs. The group surveyed more than 1,000 global business leaders and found that 61% believed the “quality of remote work is at least as good as that done in the physical workplace.[3] Just 22% disagreed. Fifty-seven percent said that their digital workplace investments have “improved business agility” and 78% said they expect the trend to grow.

 

The bottom line is that healthcare is missing out on a great opportunity to address workplace stress and staff retention. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to get on board.

 

Technology is in place

Most physician practices and specialty providers implemented some form of telehealth early in the pandemic. While many have reopened their offices to in-person care again, the current surge in the Delta variant has reignited the use of telehealth. It’s an option patients would like to see made permanent. A poll conducted earlier this year found that 88% of Americans want to keep telehealth as an option after the pandemic has passed.[4] Why not let clinicians manage their virtual appointments from home? Most are likely to have wireless connectivity in their homes, making it easy to get set up. Blocks of time or specific days could be dedicated to virtual appointments and others to in-office appointments. It’s a win-win for patients and for staff.

 

“Many healthcare functions such as monitoring, diagnosis or therapy can be performed at a distance, with new technologies playing an important supporting role.” Harvard Business Review[5]

 

Staff skillsets have evolved

The move from onsite to remote work would have been more challenging a few years ago, before digital workplace solutions became the norm. Today, digital tools are routinely used for team meetings, video conferencing, file sharing, text messaging, and collaboration. In healthcare specifically, the use of EMRs and digital patient communication tools like text reminders, patient portals, and telehealth have gained traction. Providers and their staff have accumulated the skillset necessary to make a seamless transition between remote and in-person work.

 

Improves staffing options

Another benefit of leveraging a remote workforce in healthcare concerns recruitment. Instead of being limited to a local workforce, providers can benefit by hiring available workers outside of their local area. This provides a greater pool of candidates to choose from. For specialists whose business may have slowed because of the pandemic, leveraging remote staff to conduct virtual assessments and consultations can help mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic while, at the same time, building out their patient roster.[6]

 

Embracing remote workers helps reduce absenteeism by allowing quarantined staff with mild symptoms to continue seeing patients via telehealth from home.

 

The time to act is now

According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, “Aside from the obvious benefits such as reduced commuting times, remote work arrangements have also been shown to increase productivity, improve employee morale, and reduce stress and burnout; thereby lowering the incidence of treatment errors.”[7]

 

Is there a downside to implementing a work-from-home plan in provider practices? It might be better to ask if there’s any good reason not to use every tool possible to reduce healthcare’s critical staffing shortages for good. The time to act is now.

 

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/22/health-workers-covid-quit/

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2020/02/12/top-5-benefits-of-remote-work-for-companies/?sh=5d807caa16c8

[3] https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/recreating-work-as-a-blend-of-virtual-physical-experiences.pdf

[4] https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/most-consumers-want-keep-telehealth-after-covid-19-pandemic

[5] [6] [7] https://hbr.org/sponsored/2020/09/the-case-for-remote-work-in-health-care

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