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Telehealth Improves Patient Satisfaction and Reduces Hospital Admissions

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | March 15, 2019 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

The evidence continues to grow that the practice of using digital technology to provide a virtual clinical visit saves money and improves the patient experience.

Another recent study just joined the long list of data documenting the effectiveness of telehealth in reducing hospital admission while improving patient satisfaction. It illustrates strongly that a telemedicine practice can have a positive impact on the clinical bottom line by improving reimbursement and reducing costs. This article will review the lasted findings and their implications for healthcare providers across the nation.

Data from Three Systems Shows Positive Outcomes

“These programs can help realize improved financial and clinical outcomes by facilitating behavior change and by staging timely, interactive care interventions to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions or emergency department visits.”
From The Commonwealth Fund study

EHR intelligence reported on a study that tracked telehealth initiatives at three large clinical facilities to determine the effects on revenue cycle and patient experience. The facilities included:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a federal healthcare network of hundreds of facilities devoted exclusively to the care of veterans and their families across the U.S.
  • Partners HealthCare is a Boston-based health system with a network of community hospitals, primary and specialty practices, ancillaries, a managed care network, and more.
  • Centura Health is the largest health system stretching across Kansas and Colorado; with an extensive network of hospitals, medical practices, and other clinical care providers.

The study looked closely at the recorded metrics for the home monitoring programs at these three organizations and found they have been successful in both cutting inpatient costs for patients with chronic diseases, as well as raising patient satisfaction scores by an average of 85%.

What is Remote Monitoring?

Remote patient monitoring is a subset of the telehealth field that uses digital sensors and electronic transmissions to track patients in their homes, at school or work, or wherever they are. The clinical data is transmitted to healthcare providers via the Internet.

The benefits of these tools for caring for the chronically ill patient have been well documented. There are also findings that support the efficacy of remote monitoring telehealth in specialty care, such as orthopedics. Studies have shown these tools have reduced mortality in patients with chronic diseases and reduced hospital readmissions. The American Society for Quality recommends remote patient monitoring as an effective way to cut costs and improve care delivery.

The latest study on remote patient monitoring mirrored these findings, further cementing telehealth’s role in the future of care delivery. The Commonwealth Report’s findings validated prior research that shows the positive implications of telehealth for monitoring and responding to chronic disease conditions. This is particularly important; further research by the organization shows that the number of older adults with chronic disease conditions is on the rise and that this population will have problems affording treatment in the future. In fact, the United States has worse outcomes for access to care for chronic conditions over all other industrialized nations in the world.

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With the release of the study of three large health system outcomes, it’s clear that telehealth is imperative for the future of our nation’s care delivery networks. The findings from The Commonwealth study included:

  • Outcomes – VA Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT)
    The VA has long been a leader in the practical application of telehealth technologies in a variety of patient settings. Their telehealth program was founded in 2003 and continues to expand. As an organization funded by Congressional approval, the VA receives intense scrutiny over how they spend taxpayer funding. The Commonwealth Fund found that telehealth remote monitoring reduced hospital admissions significantly, including:
    --56% for depression;
    --20% for diabetes;
    --40% for other mental health issues.
    The study also noted that these outcomes are similar whether the patient was experiencing one condition or several.
  • Outcomes – Partners HealthCare
    Partners HealthCare leverages telehealth to monitor cardiac patients when they leave the hospital. The organization reports a 51% reduction in hospital readmissions for these patients, citing “improved patient understanding of the condition.” Partners HealthCare reports savings on the 1,265 patients enrolled in the program of more than $10.3 million. The organization credits widespread physician and patient support of the program for its success.
  • Outcomes – Centura Health
    Centura Health uses telehealth to treat patients with COPD, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. The system uses remote monitoring for these patients 48-hours after hospital discharge. Technicians train patients to use remote monitoring tools in their homes, but it is the primary caregivers that introduce the technology to the patient and their caregivers. The system attributes the success of the program to this initial introduction; leveraging the trusted advisor relationship between doctor and patient improves adoption of the new technology.

The study noted that each of these programs began with an initial pilot project, which, upon successful clinical outcomes, expanded into full-blown programs within their clinical service lines.

Typical Outcomes with Telehealth

“…telehealth will follow the same adoption curve we all have witnessed in the banking industry: People already familiar with convenient and efficient technologies elsewhere in their lives were the first to embrace mobile banking apps, e-payments and paperless check deposits. As more people learned of their benefits, the masses followed…”
Health Standards

The results from The Commonwealth Fund study are, in fact, typical. Studies of the practical application of telehealth go back two decades, and organizations as geographically diverse as Kaiser Permanente on the west coast to the Cleveland Clinic; have reported positive results from using telehealth for remote monitoring as well as for the virtual visit.

Today, it is widely predicted that telehealth will solve many of our most pressing healthcare problems, including improving outcomes, reducing costs, and increasing access to care. Telehealth benefits our patients as well as health systems, hospitals, and even medical practices struggling to cut costs and improve patient satisfaction. Organizations like the American Hospital Association have long endorsed telehealth as a technology set to improve outcomes in our overburdened healthcare delivery system.

OrthoLive uses telehealth technology to bring low-cost efficiency to orthopedic practitioners seeking new ways to leverage these tools. Contact us to see how telemedicine can change your outcomes for the better.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", healthcare, acute care, 2019, hospital readmissions

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