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Telemedicine in Skilled Nursing Facilities

Movement disorders, impaired mobility, and memory loss frequently require the services of a specialist. Traveling can be difficult for patients in skilled nursing facilities. Having direct access to a specialist from the skilled nursing facility or another easily accessible site is preferred.

This year, in a Wall Street Journal, an article discussed how hospitals are using interactive video to give patients better access to medical care. Skilled nursing facilities are an ideal environment to provide patient-centered care with a high standard for quality.

As part of the US government healthcare reform, not only incentives, but penalties, as well, have been implemented for facilities failing to adopt electronic health records by 2015. Underlying this initiative were major goals to improve quality and efficiency of care. Additionally, the goal was to facilitate coordination of services among referral and interdisciplinary team sources. Telemedicine has emerged as the means to effectively address issues of cost, coordinate care, and provide access to specialty care, since this transition to electronic health records.

Telemedicine simply refers to electronic exchange of medical information. There are three types of telemedicine:

  • Store and forward - transmission of medical images for diagnosis; information is sent to an intermediate station where it is kept and sent at a later time
  • Remote monitoring - enables healthcare professionals to provide remote consultations
  • Interactive services - provide real-time interactions between patient and provider; include phone conversations, online communication, and virtual visits

Telemedicine has been used effectively in critical care models for years, but only recently has made its way into skilled nursing facilities. It is a concrete imperative to provide sustainability in healthcare. In order to achieve and maintain this sustainability in light of escalating costs and budget cuts, skilled nursing facilities must apply changes along with Medicare reform.

An example of telemedicine is a bedside examination of a skilled nursing facility resident performed by RN with a live consult with a specialist. Telemedicine used to conduct consultations:

  • Provide an effective use of nurse skillset and time
  • Provides effective medical management for residents
  • Avoids the need for fact-to-face visits
  • Helps avoid resident transfers to hospitals and/or emergency departments

Whenever skilled nursing facilities use a telemedicine program to help optimize care for their patients, it has made a huge impact, with improved diagnosis, treating, and a better quality of life. Telemedicine programs also aide revenue in a skilled nursing facility. Frequently, a therapist and nurse are incorporated into the telemedicine visits to obtain the most up-to-date information to aid with treatment. This prevents delays in diagnosis and treatment, thus decreasing treatment expense. Also, skilled nursing facilities using telemedicine in conjunction with treatment have lower hospital readmission rates and improved customer satisfaction surveys.

Skilled nursing facilities provide care to residents with issues requiring medical specialists. Additionally, skilled nursing facilities must provide specialized care across a wide continuum. Getting to specialists’ offices can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Providing easy access to specialists via telemedicine provides a solution that optimizes care and advances the industry.

At Highland Risk Services, our goal is to help our agents provide their clients who serve skilled nursing facilities pursue every avenue to provide current industry information and adequate insurance coverage for their clients. Please contact us to discuss your insurance needs at one of our offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100, Lansing at 517-676-7100 or Phoenix at 847-832-9099.

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Tags: Highland Risk Services, healthcare facilities, insurance, commercial insurance, Skilled Nursing Facilities

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