How Skilled Nursing Facilities Can Benefit From Telemedicine

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Readmission Rates

Resident patients at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) frequently develop a change in their condition which requires medical attention. Oftentimes, especially on weekends and during after-hours periods, no doctor is present at the facility and the nursing staff must handle the situation on their own. Nurses will contact the on-call doctor by phone and describe what is happening, and the doctor must make a medical judgment based on the nurse’s description. But the doctor cannot precisely know what is going on with just a verbal description, so he or she will usually tell the nurse to transfer the patient to the nearby hospital’s emergency room, just to be safe.

This is known as a hospital readmission. The rate of readmission is a key metric for judging an SNF’s quality of care. In 2019, a majority of skilled nursing facilities will be penalized by CMS for poor readmission rates. In 2018, 73% of facilities received a penalty. On average, SNFs are getting worse at managing readmissions.

Readmissions cost SNFs thousands of dollars every month. According to our research, an average readmission costs a minimum of $1,200. Knowing your readmission rate, it is easy to calculate how much you are losing each month.

Closing the Gap with Telemedicine

Telemedicine technology can help on-call doctors remotely examine patients and make more informed judgments about whether they need to go to the ER. Often, just by seeing and talking to a patient on a video call, the doctor can conclude that nothing is seriously wrong and the patient just needs to be monitored more closely. More advanced telemedicine solutions (like our CureCompanion telemedicine cart solution) also provide real-time examination capabilities, including integrations with digital stethoscopes, HD exam cameras, and wireless ECG machines.

By leveraging telemedicine technology, SNFs can thus provide more intelligent care for their resident patients and prevent unnecessary ER transfers, which are stressful for the patient and costly for the facility.