Potentially avoidable hospitalizations tend to be top of mind for nursing home leadership and staff members due to the high costs associated with the transfer. In addition, patients are impacted when they require a move to a different facility and family members are introduced to added stress.
Telemedicine has been an increasingly popular solution for preventing those avoidable hospitalizations as they lend an additional hand to facility staff members and residents that allow patients to be treated in place because of the ability to have a video conference with a board-certified physician at any time of the day or night. The specialization of the field allows regularly attending physicians to keep a normal schedule and reduces the cost to facilities looking for that hard to find 24/7 availability.
Unfortunately, at times, telemedicine can be hard to implement and is not a one-size fit all solution. Each facility should take in special considerations in order to make the service fit their specific needs. Keep reading to learn about key important considerations a nursing home facility should think about when implementing telemedicine for their patients.
1- Make sure you have the best internet bandwidth for your needs.
In order for a video-based telemedicine consultation to work and work at it’s best capacity, you’ll want to ensure you have the best bandwidth speed in place for your type of facility and it’s needs. According to HealthIT.gov, nursing homes should have a minimum bandwidth of 10 Mbps, but if your facility plans on running more than telemedicine off this network- you’ll want a faster connection. You should also take into consideration the size of your facility as no two are alike.
If your bandwidth isn’t currently at this level, remember that increasing bandwidth is an easy upgrade to have made.
2- Your Provider’s Technology Capabilities and Limitations
Often nursing homes will be approached by telemedicine providers who are offering an entire product suite that includes expensive equipment and machines. These machines are often found on carts that can be wheeled around the facility as needed. They often include add-on pieces of medical equipment like stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. While it’s great to have all of these tools directly connected to the machine, you’re likely going to come up against equipment that quickly becomes out of date and requires expensive upgrades from time to time.
The other option for a telemedicine solution is to choose one that is completely cloud-based. This allows you to choose a computer or mobile device (like a tablet) that works for your staff members. The upfront costs are much lower and the ability to upgrade is easy and less expensive.
3- Be sure to develop a training strategy for your staff members.
Once you’ve gone through all the processes of determining the best solution for your facility and setting up all the technical aspects, don’t forget to set aside time for training your staff members. Nursing staff who aren’t comfortable with the technology won’t use it and there needs to be a healthy utilization rate in order for the service to be successful.
Your telemedicine provider should be willing to provide a number of sessions throughout the onboarding process. This could include during the initial development of the program, just before launching the program with your facility, and ongoing sessions for new staff members as they come on board with your facility.
While clinical staff members will be using the platform the most, technical support staff and administrative staff should also be knowledgeable about the platform and how it works.
4- Spread the word of your new offering to attract new residents.
Telehealth can help reduce potentially avoidable hospital admissions, reduce costs for your facility, and help keep your residents healthier by safely treating them in place. All of these things can greatly increase the potential for a family member choosing your facility as a new home for their loved one. Use this additional service as an attractor to your facility- when comparing two homes of the same caliber, the one that presents this extra offering will most likely come out ahead.
June 26, 2017
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