The current global health crisis has highlighted just how fragile our healthcare system is. Indeed, none of us expected to face adversity this severe with hospitals struggling to accommodate everyone and healthcare workers experiencing extreme burnout. Because of the pandemic, healthcare workers and institutions have pushed for the adoption of one innovative solution that proves to continuously transform the healthcare industry: telehealth.
Since 2020, telehealth has exploded in popularity. Services that had previously only been offered onsite were moved to online, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services expanded reimbursement. With telehealth so important in 2022, many of those temporary reimbursements have been made permanent, and healthcare facilities have begun assessing their once emergent telehealth solutions. Despite being a necessary transition post-pandemic, there are other ways telehealth is elevating patient care to a new level: including patient satisfaction, increased accessibility to healthcare, and decreased patient falls.
In early 2021 the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition partnered with the AMA to perform a COVID-19 Telehealth Impact Study. Thousands of patients were polled. The overwhelming majority of respondents reported a good experience with telehealth and would like to continue to use it going forward. Another survey found that 88% percent of respondents want to continue to use telehealth services for non-emergent consultations following our return to normalcy.
It may seem unheard of to drive two towns over to see a doctor, but limited healthcare access is a reality for many rural areas. Regular primary care practitioner visits are scheduled further apart, and when patients need to see a specialist, they may spend half a day traveling to the nearest clinic. With the advent of telehealth and the adoption of smarter, more connected healthcare devices, a growing number of rural patients can seek higher quality of care closer to home. One success story IDS has worked with is Allina Health Care: now able to serve more rural communities strategically via video conferencing and data analytics.
Telehealth makes it so that patients do not need to travel to see a provider. This opens a statewide or even nationwide network of healthcare professionals to anyone at home.
Individuals living in remote areas or in medical deserts no longer need to forgo care. Mental health service, in particular, saw a tremendous telehealth growth. The availability of telehealth services opens healthcare to patient populations that had previously been underserved.
For millions of people with limited access to healthcare, telehealth has been a critical part of keeping patients connected to doctors. As the recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused many facilities to limit patients or shut down altogether, it’s becoming clear that telehealth is no longer a “nice to have,” but a need: Telehealth is healthcare.
Virtual Patient Observation
Patient safety is of tremendous importance within the healthcare system. Yet hundreds of thousands of patients perish annually from preventable mistakes (Source: Journal of Patient Safety). A major cause of patient injury and death is patient falls, with around 1 million inpatient falls occurring annually in the United States (Source: National Library of Medicine).
With budgetary constraints minimizing the number of nurses hired each year, the nursing staff of hospitals are experiencing a greater strain than ever, particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The patient sitter role was introduced to observe patients and prevent adverse events like patient falls, but one sitter assigned to one patient hardly gives any nurse the kind of support they need. This growing challenge is being faced by facilities across the country. But technology is offering a solution through virtual patient observation.
Virtual Patient Observation uses technology like MedSitter to address this issue by allowing one person, a virtual sitter, to observe as many as 10 patients in one setting. A patient safety observer (PSO), located in a different room in the hospital or at another clinical facility altogether, uses a MedSitter observation station to connect to a telehealth device in the patient’s room, using two-way audio and video. Along with tools that allow patient communication, the PSO can watch anything that will help prevent the patient from harming themselves or others.
Virtual observation has had a dramatic effect on the risks and issues that hospitals and clinical facilities have been struggling to prevent for years. Many large systems are reporting reductions in patient falls and reduced cost of additional care and staffing. The extra sets of eyes are also supporting nurses, who have been struggling with fatigue, by relieving them of the need to be in two or more places at once. Telehealth helps keep patients satisfied and safe. Without access to healthcare, a guaranteed safe stay when getting care, and a happy patient, healthcare becomes much harder. With telehealth, not only is healthcare made easier, but it is made better for everyone involved. Take your services to the next level and visit our Contact Us page to learn more.