Previously, we’ve discussed the pending Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations Act of 2018 (RUSH Act) and the potential impact it could have by allowing Medicare to participate in SNF telemedicine (skilled nursing facilities) to keep residents healthier and reduce hospital admissions. However, some facilities aren’t waiting for the bill to pass; they’re charging ahead with SNF telemedicine services, and they’re already seeing results.
Central Island Healthcare, an SNF in Plainview, New York, teamed up with Call9 to provide on-site care for patients who experience an acute change in condition. Serious events such as cardiac arrest are transferred to the hospital but are given early intervention measures via telemedicine, often with better outcomes than they would have had without telemedicine. In other cases, a Call9 remote physician is contacted so he/she can evaluate the situation and provide direction for treatment right there at the facility. During the first two years of the program, hospitalizations were cut nearly in half—from an average of 154 per six-month period to 85 hospitalizations per period.
Call9 keeps a clinical care specialist on-site at the facility at all times. When a patient experiences an acute change of condition, the specialist works with a staff nurse to connect with a Call9 remote physician. Within minutes, the resident is seen virtually by a physician and is being treated by the facility’s team, usually for common ailments such as fever, hypertension, chest pain, or COPD. Since implementation, in addition to a consistent 40-50 percent reduction in emergency department transfers, the facility has also noticed greater satisfaction among residents and their families.
In a similar setup, Cobble Hill Health Center, in Brooklyn, New York, worked with Tapestry Telehealth to provide after-hours physician coverage via telemedicine. During a one-year period, Cobble Hill reduced hospital transfers by roughly one-third, saving over $1.5 million, according to a case study published in the August American Journal of Managed Care.
SNF telemedicine is just one example of the increasing trend of moving healthcare delivery beyond the walls of a hospital or clinic. As our senior population grows, our healthcare system needs more solutions like this one to provide quality care at a fraction of the cost.