Keeping a lid on medical costs has proven to be a Herculean task. Numerous financial experts –Warren Buffet, for instance – have warned that spending 20% of the nation’s GDP on health care is neither wise nor sustainable. Consequently, policymakers, government agencies and legislation — including the Affordable Care Act — have attempted to reign in spiraling health-related expenses.
Today, hospitals have to comply with government directives aimed at reducing patient readmission rates by at least 5%. The use of telemedicine to deliver patient follow-up care can help health providers reduce expenses and better comply with government regulations.
In fact, reducing patient readmission rates represents a major opportunity to trim health care expenditures. For instance, studies indicate that as many as 25% of the patients discharged from their care facilities will be readmitted within less than a month. Many patient readmissions are unnecessary and preventable. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of patients would prefer to avoid a return stay. Also, hospitals could save substantial sums if they could deliver quality follow-up care in the patient’s home via telemedicine. After all, they would free up bed space for new patients even as they continue to generate revenue from their follow-up outpatients. Therefore, all stakeholders have an interest in avoiding costly readmissions.
Care providers recognize that better patient monitoring and technological connectivity are essential to improving health outcomes. In most cases, in-home care is the best option for all concerned. Here are several ways providers can utilize video to deliver quality follow-up care.
- Cloud-based Systems: Integrating communication, care and data collection when multiple parties are involved is essential. Cloud-based solutions enable hospitals, primary physicians and patients to collaborate across a unified platform, so medical services are delivered seamlessly.
- Virtual Visits: Thanks to videoconferencing, physicians can remain in their offices but consult face-to-face with patients in their own homes or office. In particular, telemedicine carts in a patient’s residence now include plug and play diagnostic peripherals, which allow remotely-located physicians and care providers to measure blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs in real-time. In short, high-tech video examinations can be every bit as productive as actual visits.
- Medicine Management: Telepharmacy involves the use of video and digital technology to fill prescriptions and connect patients with remotely located pharmacists. Virtual druggists can dispense, monitor and manage patient medications electronically.
- Daily Health Checks: Electronic in-home monitoring helps care providers track patient progress. Additionally, improved follow-up care and oversight encourages healthier habits among patients.
Studies indicate that follow-up care delivered by telemedicine can be every bit as good as traditional methods. In fact, recently the AMA adopted the view that the appropriate use of telemedicine could benefit patients, both in terms of higher quality care and easier access to health services. Video is emerging as a powerful tool in the healthcare arsenal. It allows institutions, physicians and patients to cooperate more fully in the post-hospital treatment process. Lower readmission rates made possible by telemedicine are a healthy sign for patients, hospitals and society as a whole.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at email@example.com