Telehealth delivers cost-effective, widely accessible, high-quality care that is “as good as or better than usual care” outcomes for specific populations, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Instead of completely reverting back to in-person care, providers should look for ways to take full advantage of all that telemedicine has to offer going forward. Improving outcomes for high-risk populations is a great place to start. Following are three key areas with the greatest potential for doing just that.
Virtual Patient Monitoring
A study by AHRQ found that almost 20% of patients experience an adverse event within three weeks of their hospital discharge date. These issues include but are not limited to: adverse drug reactions, infections, and complications from recent procedures.
In most of these cases, the adverse events were entirely preventable. In fact, the same study found that these and other complications often arose when patients were discharged while test results were pending, or when they were in need of outpatient “diagnostic follow-up.”
Telehealth-enabled virtual patient monitoring can mitigate these issues by enabling hospitals and primary care physicians to oversee these patients in the critical days following their discharge.
Managing Chronic Care
While over 70% of our healthcare dollars go towards caring for patients with multiple chronic conditions, the majority of these costs are preventable. Most stem from “acute care hospital and emergency department visits that could be prevented with earlier intervention.” Virtual monitoring for chronic care management allows patients to get the care they need to eliminate preventable complications.
For example, research has shown that for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, remote patient monitoring via telehealth can reduce hospitalizations by up to 35%, and ED visits by 68%. Both patients and providers benefit from this transition to virtual care; not only does telemedicine in chronic care patients greatly improve their outcomes, but it also presents significant revenue potential for providers, especially when care is provided by non-physician staff such as registered nurses.
Establishing a Virtual Care Center
A virtual care center (VCC) allows for the streamlining of provider operations and can work to enhance care for critically ill patients who need around-the-clock monitoring, such as those in an ICU. VCCs act as a command center, allowing for centralized resource management—so important during our current staffing shortage. VCCs also enable better communication, lowered costs, and increased efficiencies. Having a functional VCC in place helps ensure patients receive the highest quality care, from initial triage to expert diagnosis and remote monitoring, as well as more appropriate referrals.
A 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 VidyoHealth 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’s virtual patient monitoring solution 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%.
Start Implementing Virtual Patient Monitoring Today
For foreword-thinking provider organizations, telehealth is here to stay. We have seen its benefits throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as the world reopens and recovers from COVID-19. Now is the time to find a permanent place for telemedicine within our healthcare ecosystem. Virtual patient monitoring technology is the conduit through which we can make this happen. Partnering with a company like VidyoHealth can help us achieve this imperative faster.