We’ve seen how the benefits of telemedicine programs like remote patient management (RPM) apply to patients (better access to and improved quality of care along with enhanced support, education and feedback), clinicians (more accurate and timely delivery of patient information; greater professional satisfaction) and payers (better utilization, lower costs, improved quality scores and member loyalty). But what are the benefits of telemedicine to the health systems that house and coordinate all this care activity?
“Remote patient monitoring helps health systems in a couple of ways,” explains Marcus Grindstaff, Chief Operations Officer for Care Innovations in an exclusive video offered by the RPM Academy. Basically, those ways are improving quality of care while also eliminating elements that contribute not only to higher costs, but also to higher risks.
In brief, telemedicine’s benefits to health systems are:
- Helping improve patient care (especially after discharge)
- Easing the risk of hospital readmission penalizations
Telemedicine Benefits: Improved Patient Care (Especially Post-Discharge)
“The most important” benefit of telemedicine and RPM to health systems is that “it establishes a very strong bond between them and the patients on a continuous basis,” Marcus explains. And by strengthening this bond, patients are more satisfied and engaged with their care. They’re also less likely to relapse, and more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to the health system that made it all possible.
This is possible not just by improving the routine of standard care, but also improving the post-discharge process — a critical aspect of healthcare that, if mishandled, can threaten the entire care continuum and jeopardize all earlier progress.
By ensuring continuous interaction between patients and health providers post-discharge, potential health issues or relapses are more easily detected in time to prevent re-admission or, even worse, a trip to the emergency room. The benefits of this are obvious—not just in terms of patient care (and operational efficiency), but also in terms of improved patient satisfaction.
“Patients have choice — in most geographic areas, they have two or three providers they can choose from,” Marcus says. “Someone who's being cared for continuously in their home by the provider is very likely to always come back to that same provider.”
Telemedicine Benefits: Mitigated Risk of Readmission Penalties
“Many health systems carry risk,” Marcus explains in the RPM Academy video. “That could be through an ACO, it could be through a bundled payment structure, it could also be through a captive health plan.”
That risk can be manifested in a number of ways: For instance, under some plan or payment structures, a health system may be penalized financially if a patient is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. By improving care and reducing re-hospitalizations, telemedicine helps reduce that risk — resulting in a powerful way for health systems to reduce overall costs (and “increase their operating margin,” as Marcus explains).
- Infographic: How the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network eliminated ER visits and patient readmissions during its first year of implementation
Amid the better-known data about improved patient care and clinician performance, this ability of telemedicine to actually reduce financial risk for health systems carries its own special significance — particularly in a healthcare industry facing ballooning costs, shortages of physicians, and an historical influx of new patients.
Not only is RPM a telemedicine solution that can “help manage patients after discharge and ensure that they’re getting quality clinical and low-cost care,” as Care Innovations Chief Clinical Officer Julie Cherry (RN, MSN) explains in the video, it also helps ensure “that physicians and providers are no longer being penalized.”Care Innovations RPM Academy, a series of exclusive, informative, bite-size videos designed to shed light on these increasingly important terms and concepts. You can also contact a Care Innovations representative for further information.