Implementing Telemedicine in a Skilled Nursing Facility To Reduce Emergency Department Visits

From the Arizona Telemedicine Program:

Telemedicine offers great promise as a strategy to reduce the skilled nursing/emergency department loop.  Telemedicine can be powered by a specialized telemedicine cart or a computer with a camera that facilities a live video connection between a patient and nursing assistant at the facility and the off-site resource (physician or nurse).  When deployed and used, it reduced unnecessary patient transportation to the emergency department for non-emergent situations.

For most facilities, the barriers to telemedicine adoption are the perceived expense of the equipment or software.  In fact, an iPad at the bedside loaded with Zoom or VSee could suffice. Important factors for success tend to be operational ones.  The facility must have physicians or nurses available for consultations.  Documentation of the visit must occur.  One strategy is to have the after-hours coverage physician or nurse staff the telemedicine platform and chart in the existing Electronic Medical Record.  Telemedicine allows the physician to assess the situation from his or her home and drive to the facility only if “hands on” treatment is required.  In short, telemedicine can be an inexpensive and effective tool to reduce transportations and increase patient access to physicians.

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