Telehealth is Tumbling 30-Day Readmissions Penalties

In time for this year’s HIMSS – Lee Horner, President of Stratus’s Telehealth Division, explains how Telehealth can  reduce re-admisisons.
High readmission rates are a $17 billion problem across the U.S. for hospital administrators.
What’s even more alarming is that a portion of 30-day readmissions are preventable. According to a recent University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 27% of readmissions could be avoided. This study shows that hospitals must improve communications between patients, physicians, hospitals and primary care providers, while providing better post-discharge resources.
Upon discharge, if a patient is readmitted within 30 days, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires payment from the hospital due to the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which penalizes preventable readmissions. However, the burden of keeping abreast of each patient’s unique recovery isn’t an easy task for both providers and hospitals.
Imagine that, as a patient, you are sent home from the hospital with a stack of discharge papers. Are you more likely to read every sheet carefully or to stack it in a corner, never to be looked at again?
Solutions to the readmissions problem are emerging in today’s market and are designed to support the management and monitoring of every patient’s unique recovery during their most critical time post-discharge from the hospital: the first 30 days. By offering a workflow that aligns with the patient’s recovery period, such solutions automate follow-up reminders, connecting patients and providers over a secure video call, and allows for patient Q&A.
Now, imagine the patient with the stack of post-discharge instructions. Instead, these emerging solutions have the ability to send a text or email at discharge with a link to join a video conference. The patient simply clicks the link and the automatic video call distribution will identify the next available provider for a telehealth follow-up via computer, tablet or smartphone. New telehealth developments can even send reminders to the patient until they participate in a follow-up call and through this continuous follow-up, ensuring reduced readmission rates which help both the patient and provider alike.
According to a 2016 Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey, connected health tools (mobile and wireless devices) are changing patient care delivery.

The survey also found:
67% of healthcare organizations utilized multiple connected health technology solutions
58% used mobile optimized patient portals as an important patient engagement tool in their connected health strategy
47% stated that they expect to add additional connected health technologies to their platform.
It is great news for patients and providers that telehealth and connected health tools, are growing and will continue to do so while supporting hospitals in meeting CMS guidelines and preventing 30-day readmissions.

Author: umnitso

Managing Editor at ProfoMedia, and Senior Partner at The CRT Partnership, a a leading specialist in brokering international alliances and partnerships; a published author in own right - as well as accredited media for major trade associations, including HIMSS, Vitalis, and others.

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