For skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), the major benefit of telemedicine is that it brings medical services to patients — and assistance to care providers — that might otherwise remain out of reach, at a moment’s notice.
But telemedicine only thrives when the people on the ground want to use it and know how to get the most of it. That’s why medical group Theoria Medical, of Novi, Mich., focuses on an integrated telemedicine model in which the medical staff in the building and the telemedicine staff work closely together to provide care instantly.
As a result, Theoria’s clients see a return-to-hospital rate on average of just 7%, compared to the state average of 22.6%.
“When Theoria comes into a building, it’s a regime change,” says Theoria COO Kevin Pezeshkian. “We align very well with [the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]. … All of our providers are trained on compliance. And as a group, we’re very outcomes-driven. We want the name Theoria to resonate with quality care.”
With a range of specialties including internal medicine, psychiatry and physical medicine and rehabilitation, Theoria serves more than 100 buildings throughout Michigan. The group delivers its integrated telemedicine model through its branded telemedicine product 5-Star Telemed with the purpose of reducing avoidable readmissions and providing quality care at an instant.
Here are three ways that integrated telemedicine can reduce readmissions.
Higher provider availability
Telemedicine increases health provider availability. Patients can receive medical attention anytime, anywhere, which increases the attention they receive while decreasing unnecessary transfers to the emergency department, increasing the risk of infections and other complications. Theoria doubles down on that by acting as the SNF’s medical director, the basis for its 24-hour availability, Pezeshkian says.
“Nursing staff can contact us for any reason at any time, 24/7,” he says. “If there is a new admission, we can do a [medication reconciliation] right away. If there is a fall, they can let the [physician] provider know. If there are any acute changes, anything at all, the nursing staff alerts the provider, who works with the nursing team to address any issues. And we’re very quick on our response time.”
That round-the-clock availability is one of the major drivers of the reduced readmission rates, Pezeshkian says.
“In a lot of buildings that don’t have us, there is no provider available 24/7,” he says. “Our providers are always there, always available, ready to go. They’re not sleeping. They’re ready and waiting for the nursing team to contact them.”
Integration with the medical staff
Technology is only as valuable as the user. And in a work setting, users grow comfortable with technology when they know it will help them do their jobs. Even for talented, veteran nurses asked to incorporate telemedicine into their daily care routines, finding a workaround might be appealing and easier without the proper guidance and hands-on, ground-level partnership.
That is where the “integrated” in Theoria’s “integrated telemedicine” comes in.
“The great thing about our program is we’re the medical director, and we have physical providers in the building who work in tandem with our telemedicine staff,” Pezeshkian says. “I think that is another huge factor that not only reduces readmissions but improves overall quality and transition of care.”
Theoria’s approach is to create a setting where the night team reports directly to the day team, and communication is both constant and instantaneous. Data from Medicare.gov shows the average readmission rate for the 402 skilled nursing facilities in Michigan is about 22.6%, with a range of about 14% for Lenawee Medical Care Facility in the town of Adrian, to 27% for Greenfield Rehab and Nursing Center in Royal Oak.
The last step that Theoria Medical takes to lower readmissions is proactiveness on the part of their team.
“Our providers are always digging through the [patient] charts, looking for anything that looks abnormal,” Pezeshkian says. “We are always in contact with the nursing team, especially overnight. Having the provider on the constant lookout can really help with positive outcomes.”
This combination of all-hours availability, physical staff integration, comprehensive research and the right technology solution drives Theoria’s outcomes, he says.
“Our providers are trained to be on the lookout, kind of like a watchdog,” he says. “We train our team to be vigilant during the night hours. I think our group is doing an exceptional job [delivering outcomes], and those buildings [not with us] are losing out by not having the services that we offer.”
To learn more about what Theoria Medical’s 5-Star Telemed product can do for your readmission rate and quality of care, visit Theoria Medical at Theoriamedical.com & 5startelemed.com. Contact us at 833-5STARMD or firstname.lastname@example.org