Telemedicine: The Future of Post-Acute Care

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Telemedicine can change how post-acute care is delivered and received. With more than 20% of Americans reaching retirement age by 2030, the demand for skilled nursing and home healthcare services will continue to grow. The aging population with the chronic disease means these services will be increasingly expensive. To further complicate the situation, current reimbursement models don’t adequately support facilities in providing high-quality care that is also affordable for patients and their families. As a result, many skilled nursing facilities are struggling for financial reforms while trying to find ways to provide patients with better outcomes at an affordable price.

After completing treatment or surgery, post-acute care is an important part of the recovery process. Ideally, patients can transition smoothly from inpatient hospital care to home with family and friends or a nursing facility that meets their needs and preferences. In reality, gaps between these care settings often make this difficult to achieve. Telemedicine is increasingly being used as a means of bridging this gap. Telemedicine has been around for many years but has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to the digital age. It refers to using telecommunication technology to provide care remotely instead of face-to-face. There are various forms of telemedicine, including virtual doctors, video consultations, and remote monitoring devices. This blog will explore how telemedicine can help address these problems and give tips on using it in your own business or organization.

What is Post-Acute Care?

Post-acute care refers to all health care provided after treatment for a specific condition. It includes inpatient and outpatient treatment and transitional care from one level of care to another. Examples of post-acute care include:

  • Treatment for mental health issues.
  • Palliative care for terminally ill patients.
  • Physical rehabilitation for people with disabilities.
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These services are provided by different care providers, including nurses, social workers, psychologists, and occupational therapists. Post-acute care also extends to home care, provided by home health aides or personal care assistants. Post-acute care may be provided in a number of different settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and patients’ homes.

Telemedicine in Post-Acute Care

Telemedicine has grown in recent years thanks to our digital age. It makes use of telecommunication technology to provide care remotely instead of face-to-face. There are various forms of telemedicine, including virtual doctors, video consultations, and remote monitoring devices.

Virtual doctors: Virtual doctors use online platforms to diagnose and advise patients. These can include online symptom checkers, online diagnostic test kits, or AI-based symptom checkers. Some virtual doctor services also offer prescriptions. Virtual doctors are generally used for minor health issues. 

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Video consultations: Video consultations allow patients to consult with their doctors remotely via HIPAA secure video conferencing or two-way texting. Video consultations are most commonly used for mental health care, such as psychotherapy and behavioral therapy, when face-to-face interactions are essential.

Remote monitoring devices: Remote monitoring devices allow providers and patients to track critical health information, such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, or oxygen levels in the blood. They can remotely monitor very sick patients and those with chronic health conditions.

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Benefits of Telemedicine for Patients in Post-Acute Care

Telemedicine in post-acute care and how it is beneficial for more significant patient outcomes. It will explain as follows.

Reduced risk of hospital readmissions: Studies have shown that patients who use telemedicine are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital compared to those who receive care face-to-face. It is especially true for those with complex medical conditions requiring long-term care.

Improved access to care: Many patients in post-acute care have limited mobility and face travel challenges that make it difficult for them to see their providers face-to-face. Telemedicine allows them to receive care remotely when appropriate. This can reduce the need for unnecessary travel, which is not only inconvenient for patients but also costly for insurers.

Healthcare provider access: It’s often difficult for post-acute care providers to reach patients who are receiving their care remotely in the community. Communication breakdowns between providers and patients can lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect prescriptions. Telemedicine can help to alleviate these problems by facilitating interactions between providers and patients.

Patient satisfaction: While these benefits are important, they pale in comparison to the most important use of telemedicine: patient satisfaction. Patients who receive at least some portion of their care remotely are happier than those who receive all of their care face-to-face.

Limitations of Telemedicine in Post-Acute Care

There are several limitations of telemedicine in post-acute care which are given below:

Availability of technology: While remote monitoring devices and video consultations can be used by patients in a wide range of settings, virtual doctors often require internet access. There are still some far remote areas in the US that are facing internet problems.

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Quality of care: While patient satisfaction is essential, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Some patients may choose to be satisfied with receiving less-than-ideal care. Unfortunately, there is no standardization of telemedicine services. Providers often use different platforms and tools, making comparing them difficult. In order to make informed decisions about the right kind of care, patients need to be aware of the quality of different services.

Care coordination: Post-acute care is designed to transition patients from one level of care to the next. It means that providers in different care fields need to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Some providers may not be aware of their patient’s entire situation, which can lead to misdiagnosis or incorrect prescriptions.

Final Thoughts

The healthcare industry is currently undergoing a seismic shift. From an emphasis on hospital-centric care to an emphasis on patient-centric care, the way that we receive medical services and manage chronic conditions is changing. The post-acute care (PAC) sector is no exception to this trend, as providers seek innovative methods of streamlining workflow and reducing redundancy. Telemedicine has emerged as an effective solution in the post-acute space due to its ability to connect patients remotely with medical professionals. Hospital readmissions, staffing issues, infection control, and financial sustainability will all continue to pose significant challenges for skilled nursing communities and long-term care communities. Future success will depend on finding a partner in telemedicine who can increase the clinical capacity of a community.

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