Healthcare providers must follow the patient from preventative care, through medical incidents, rehabilitation, and maintenance. As a result, continuum care relies to an increasing extent on patient care beyond the acute care facility. Therefore, nursing homes have started to accept patients that are more fragile and more complicated. Some nursing homes are set up like hospitals in the sense that the staff provides medical care, together with physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Improving care in nursing homes of essential because the outcome affects the residents’ functional status and quality of life.
Over the years, various state and federal policy initiatives have focused on improving nurse staffing levels, not to mention bring about measurable improvement in health care services. The use of telemedicine has been proven to allow for better long-term care management and patient satisfaction. Several nursing homes in America leverage telemedicine technology. Since essential healthcare workers can’t make in-person visits, telemedicine is the only viable method to support nursing home residents and maintain a continuum of care.
Thanks to telemedicine, healthcare professionals can interact with patients in nursing homes
Nursing homes have begun to implement the use of telemedicine during evenings and weekends; in other words, when their in-house doctors aren’t present. Access to telemedicine makes it possible to treat individuals in one place and reduce the returns to the hospital. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that telemedicine is still in the incipient stage and refinements are expected. Perhaps, in the future time, we’ll establish a global network of doctors and other health care professionals who can reach out and educate patients.
As far as telemedicine for nursing homes is concerned, these are the main solutions that serve patients:
Medicare telehealth visits
Similar to in-person visits, Medicare telehealth visits involve the use of real-time audio and video telecommunication systems to improve patients’ health. Medicare covers various health-related services, including telemedicine. The type of services that a person can receive with Medicare depend on their location. This translates into the fact that an individual must live in a county located outside the standard metropolitan area or in a health professional shortage area.
A short check-in with a healthcare provider is enough to decide whether an office visit is necessary or a remote evaluation of recorded video and images can be submitted by the patient. As a Medicare Part B service, the patient has to pay a fixed amount for the covered services. Virtual check-ins are reasonable and medically necessary. Nonetheless, the patient must provide verbal consent for the service, which is documented in their medical record.
Communication between a nursing home resident and their provider through a web-based platform can take place anytime. The patient must not have been seen in the past 7 days for an office visit. Internet capabilities create opportunities for e-visits. The written information is sent to the doctor, who makes a diagnosis, orders the necessary care, and replies to the patient via the portal. Advantages include but aren’t limited to efficiency and convenience.
Steps for implementing telemedicine in a nursing home
Understand the rules and regulations
State, federal, and payers have been loosening telemedicine restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s only for a temporary basis. It’s up to nursing homes to inquire whether the state practice act allows for telemedicine. Telemedicine is held to the same standards as in-person care. As you navigate this remote landscape, chances are that you’re left wondering about the rules and regulations. Just so you know. Beyond state and federal guidance, several infrastructure requirements affect the implementation of telemedicine.
Reach out to the facility staff
Reach out to the people who work at the nursing home and develop a plan. This will help you decide what to do next. Any telemedicine program attempts to bring about positive change in the organization. After having established a vision, it’s necessary to build a long-term financial plan. A solid financial justification makes it easier to secure funding. Most importantly, you need a full-time coordinator and effective leader for day-to-day operations and support.
Overcome technical and practical barriers
Technology literacy can turn out to be a barrier to the implementation of telemedicine. A 70-year-old resident, for example, may have difficulty connecting to the virtual appointment. There’s also an issue. Most nursing home patients don’t have a smartphone or computer and supplying such devices is costly. A telemedicine program requires a secure Internet connection, a video platform, and technology support.
Update company policies
Amending the company policies is an important step in communicating change. Since business is growing, it’s even more important to update the policies. A policy acts as a reference point for patients and executives alike, allowing them to handle unexpected situations in a timely manner. Aspects to consider when amending company policies include clinical services and care delivery for using telemedicine, hourly work and liability coverages, resident rights, cleaning of electronic equipment, and billing and claim management.
Educate the staff
There are still professionals who aren’t familiar with telemedicine technology and don’t know how to best apply it. This is precisely why it’s necessary to schedule training sessions. The staff works hard to address medical care, not to mention the needs of the nursing home residents. They need to understand the facility’s efforts in supporting telemedicine services. Basically, the staff needs to be on board. A mock test can be arranged to check the different connection methods and various uses of the equipment.
To sum up, telemedicine offers nursing home residents bedside access to much-needed specialists. Nursing homes depend to a large extent on paraprofessionals, which are located off-site. Rather than being transported to the hospital for an assessment, patients are treated remotely. Groundbreaking technologies dramatically improve patient outcomes. Besides vital sign monitoring, these technologies ensure access to a dedicated clinician, who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can make your nursing home telemedicine savvy, but it takes time and effort.