No one likes staying at the hospital longer than they have to. However, in some instances, patients have to be readmitted to a medical facility within a short period after being discharged. These readmissions are not always at the same hospital or caused by the same condition as the last admission, but they are mostly preventable. Moreover, in most cases, telemedicine can significantly reduce hospital readmissions.
According to America’s Health Rankings, the hospital readmission rate for patients between ages 65 and 74 is 16%. Some of the most common causes behind this alarming percentage include:
- Lack of follow-up care and failure to show up for appointments
- Confusion about medication and treatment regimen
- Miscommunication between the hospital staff and the patient about important information
A high rate of patient readmission can be a burden on the health care system. In addition, it may harm the reputation and financial health of the hospital, as the federal government usually penalizes hospitals with high rates of readmissions under the Affordable Care Act.
While frequent readmissions may be bad for a hospital, they are outright upsetting for the patients.
However, thanks to the innovations in technology, telemedicine has emerged as a helpful tool to reduce hospital readmissions and ensure a quick recovery process for patients.
Here is how telemedicine can play a vital role in lowering hospital admission rates in the country.
Better Access to Health Care
Most elderly patients are not comfortable making frequent trips to the hospital – especially if they have to cover great distances to get there. Apart from traveling for hours, some patients may also find it difficult to appear for consultations due to mobility issues. Owing to these factors, a patient may ignore any new symptoms indicating their worsening conditioning and only visit the doctor or the specialist after their health has taken a turn for the worse.
Telehealth services can significantly reduce these problems by providing patients with timely care. With the option of video and audio consultations, patients with underlying conditions can stay in touch with their health care provider and inform them of any changes in their condition. The improved access to health care can lower readmission rates, particularly among senior adults in assisted living facilities.
Remote Monitoring of Patient’s Condition
One of the best advantages of telemedicine is that it helps reduce distances by providing doctors with an opportunity to remotely monitor their patients’ conditions.
Implantable and wearable devices can record a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and other metrics. The healthcare provider will monitor the patient’s vitals in real-time and detect any discrepancies, which would allow them to adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
Although remote monitoring is important for all patients with chronic diseases, it is even more important for those who have just been discharged from the hospital and are currently in their recovery period. This can have a major impact on the readmission rates. In addition, remote monitoring can also help the patient and doctors detect major health problems before they become apparent.
Easy Up Follow-Up
Showing up for follow-up consultations can take a toll on the patient’s health, especially when they are recovering from major surgery and need all the rest they can get. However, post-discharge appointments are extremely important for the patients. During these consultations, the physician informs the patients of their recovery and whether they need any changes in their treatment plan.
However, many patients fail to show up for these appointments. As a result, their condition gets worse, leading to a higher risk of hospital readmission.
Telehealth services have provided the health care providers with an opportunity to schedule virtual follow-ups to have a proper discussion with their physician from the comfort of their home. Along with reducing the number of no-show appointments, this practice will also reduce hospital readmissions as patients will be able to report any recurring complications. At the same time, the caregivers will develop an appropriate plan to resolve those issues in real-time.
Low Risk of Acquiring New Infections
Hospitals are filled with different types of patients battling different diseases, making them dangerous for children and adults alike. The situation is even dire for immunocompromised patients, as they may acquire new infections or diseases during their follow-up or routine visits to a medical facility.
Telemedicine platforms allow patients to attend all of their follow-ups and routine consultations from their couch, significantly lowering their risk of coming in contact with harmful pathogens. If the patients remain safe and healthy, it will automatically reduce hospital readmissions.
Help Patients Learn About Self-Care
Last but not least, health care providers can use online video and audio meetings to educate the patients on how to take care of themselves. Informing them about their condition and teaching them how to manage their symptoms can greatly impact the patients’ overall health.
For example, a patient with diabetes may not know that a certain food item or supplement can harm their health unless an experienced medical professional warns them about it. This additional medical support can be extremely beneficial for patients suffering from chronic conditions. It will allow them to learn how simple lifestyle changes can produce great results in the long term. When patients begin practicing self-care, the hospital readmission rates will also decrease.
Our Final Thoughts
Hospital readmissions are costly. Along with putting a dent in the patient’s bank account, they may also harm the reputation of a medical facility since high readmission rates are often associated with a lack of proper care and inadequate treatment.
Telemedicine can reduce hospital readmission rates by providing patients with better access to health care and allowing them to schedule virtual follow-ups. Telehealth services can also make it easy for health care providers to remotely monitor the patient’s condition, keep them safe from acquiring new infections, and educate them about self-care.
If you are interested in discovering more about HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platforms, please feel free to request a demo for Telehealth Peer Wellness.