Telehealth can reduce the distance between patients and their healthcare providers, ensuring the availability of affordable care anytime, anywhere. This is one of the reasons why 52 percent hospitals have already incorporated telehealth solutions into their services while another 10 percent are well on their way to doing it.
A hospital trip is a huge expense for patient and health systems. On the other hand, hospitals also benefit from reduced admissions. These health care providers have a major incentive to reduce preventable readmissions; otherwise they stand to lose substantial revenue and also run the risk of being penalized by Medicare.
Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and established in 2012, dictates the readmission rates of Medicare patients which had reached an all-time high of 20 percent in that year. CMS has some tough and financially draining penalties on hospitals that don’t abide. Some 2,600 hospitals were fined in 2014, and 39 of them had to fork over 3 percent of their Medicare reimbursements for excessive readmissions of patients, even those suffering from heart failure, COPD, and heart attacks. CMS estimated that nearly $428 million were fined to hospitals that year.
The important question is, how can clinicians use telehealth to have a positive impact on hospital readmissions?
An exhaustive study that spanned five healthcare facilities studied the impact of telehealth on treatment of multiple conditions. It was noted that the readmission rates decreased across the board for all conditions treated. Of all the facilities studies, three dealt with heart failure patients. These reported a decrease of 4 to 7 percent in readmission rates. Hospitals dealing with COPD and pneumonia patients noticed the biggest difference in readmission rates with 19 percent 26 percent respectively.
There have been many other studies that notice the effectiveness of telehealth interventions on readmission rates. The benefits for big hospitals and well-established healthcare systems are undeniable.
Applying telehealth for transitional care not only helps decrease readmission rates, but it makes the follow-up care more efficient. In fact, it is possible it increases physician’s revenue by 4% or even more, by effectively applying the transitional care management capabilities of telehealth.
Telehealth isn’t a miracle, one-cure-all treatment for CMS-related troubles for hospital. But it does have the capability to slowly and surely decrease readmission rates. Telehealth has a genuine and lasting impact on hospital readmissions, which saves money, and patient lives.
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