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Telemedicine increasing quality of care in skilled nursing facilities

January 10, 2018
by I Advance Senior Care
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In many cases, real-time clinical support can mean the difference between life and death. “Even five minutes at that point can make a huge difference,” says Karen Sullivan, communications director at Tewksbury, Mass.-based Covenant Health, which has partnered with TripleCare to install a round-the-clock telemedicine platform in four SNFs around New England. “These are critical minutes in a lot of cases for patients who are compromised.”

According to mHealth Intelligence, the challenge lies in providing care that detects and treats health issues before they become serious and require rehospitalization.

“SNFs provide services to a population of predominantly older adults who have limitations in their ability to independently care for themselves due to multiple and coexisting cognitive, physical and chronic conditions,” a report prepared in 2012 for the Center for Connected Health Policy notes. “An aging population and a lack of resources for long-term health care are leaving skilled nursing staff increasingly responsible for a growing frail patient population that requires significant medical, therapeutic, and rehabilitation services due to their significant risk for adverse, complicated, and costly health events.”

In Florida, three SNFs are taking part in a year-long project developed by CMS and coordinated by the non-profit TRECS (Targeting Revolutionary Elder Care Solutions) Institute. The goal is to determine whether a virtual care platform set up for nights and weekends can curb hospital admissions and readmissions in post-acute care settings.

“Studies show that approximately 60 [percent to] 70 percent of all nursing home transfers to the hospital are unnecessary,” John Whitman, executive director at Pennsylvania-based TRECS Institute, said in the press release. “Sending a vulnerable senior to the hospital only increases their exposure to a wide range of other proven, adverse effects.”

You can read the full report and supplemental materials at mHealthIntelligence.com.

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