In recent years, telemedicine has received a lot of attention for increasing access to healthcare in rural areas. However, there’s another population, often overlooked, that can benefit greatly from this evolving technology: residents of long-term care facilities. These patients also experience reduced accessibility to healthcare due to transportation issues or being homebound thanks to illness or injury, and their hospital readmissions are raising cost concerns among facilities. By implementing telemedicine in long-term care, we can address both challenges with one solution.
Increasing Accessibility to Care
With a higher rate of chronic health conditions, senior living residents often need more healthcare than other individuals. Unfortunately, being homebound or unable to drive can leave many patients with no way to visit the doctor’s office. Telemedicine can fill this gap by bringing healthcare to the patient, eliminating the inconvenience of traveling. Within the comfort of a familiar environment, doctors can assess their patients’ health through real-time medical devices, reliable software platforms, and secure, stable connections. This reduces the time needed for staff or a family member to transport the patient to a clinic—without sacrificing the quality of care.
Reducing Hospital Readmissions
According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, 1 in 8 senior patients is readmitted within a month of having surgery. When we look at nonsurgical reasons, that number goes up: 1 in 6 are readmitted. These readmissions are a significant cost, but applying telemedicine in long-term care can help keep many patients from returning to the hospital. By using video conferencing in-house, patients can receive medical consultations without visiting the hospital—saving money for both the facility and the hospital in transportation and readmission costs. Long Term Living reports that of the senior patients who must transfer to a hospital, roughly one-fourth of these visits could be avoided by using telemedicine. In fact, among individuals with congestive heart failure alone, such a reduction in readmissions could save over $10 billion nationwide.
Telemedicine in long-term care offers a three-way solution: Patients can receive needed healthcare more easily while avoiding unnecessary hospital stays, facility employees can save time and money that could be better spent in other aspects of long-term care, and doctors can provide healthcare effectively and efficiently with billable hours.
To explore how swyMed can help long-term care facilities provide efficient, personalized care, contact us today!