21st Century healthcare is about making the right connections, at the right time, to provide the best quality of care. The goal is to seamlessly link nursing home residents, physicians and advanced registered nurse practitioners to remote medical specialists through collaborative virtual care, including video conferencing.
Plaza Health Network’s seven South Florida rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities are rolling out this interactive technology to allow rapid, real-time, remote physician monitoring of patients utilizing the latest technological advances.
In this Q&A, Ann-Lynn Denker, PhD, ARNP, Chief Clinical Officer at Plaza Health Network, explains how telemetry can improve the quality of nursing home care, enhance patient comfort by minimizing the disruption of traveling to a hospital or medical specialist, while reducing costs for hospitals by decreasing unnecessary hospital readmissions.
Q: How does the new telemedicine system work?
A: The technology currently being implemented at the seven Plaza Skilled Nursing Facilities can continuously collect and monitor patient vital signs, other clinical information and the overall condition of monitored patients. When blood pressure, oxygen saturation, glucose levels or another measure leaves a normal range, when an electrocardiogram (ECG) shows immediate changes – or varies from values set by a resident’s primary care physician — an intervention can start immediately.
The cutting-edge technology uses a secure connection and is HIPAA compliant. Special monitoring equipment is now an essential feature of care in Plaza Health Network’s seven rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities across South Florida, including Arch Plaza, Aventura Plaza, Jackson Plaza, Ponce Plaza, Sinai Plaza, South Pointe Plaza and University Plaza.
Q: What are advantages for your residents?
A: Residents gain quicker, expanded access to specialized medical disciplines through videoconferencing and other features at any time of day or night. The enhanced monitoring is particularly important for residents admitted from hospitals for sub-acute care following surgery or related to a serious injury or major illness. Plaza Health Network is committed to helping these short-stay residents recover as safely and quickly as possible, and this new technology is part of that mission. Additionally, many studies demonstrate high patient satisfaction is achieved with telemedicine services.
Q: How can telemedicine save time and money?
A: Traditionally, a primary care physician would order the transfer of a resident reporting chest pain to a hospital for further evaluation. Now onsite advanced registered nurse practitioners or registered nurses can connect the resident to a portable ECG device and immediately share results with the primary care doctor and a remote specialist as deemed necessary.
Residents will still leave the nursing home when appropriate, but telemetry will help facilitate immediate assessments and cut unnecessary and disruptive transfers to hospitals, allowing residents to be treated in place. Residents and family can also gain peace of mind by avoiding the unnecessary inconvenience, or even trauma, of having their loved one taken to a hospital. Minimizing unnecessary readmissions will relieve unnecessary stress on patients, reduce waste and result in more efficient and cost-effective care.
Q: What kind of medical specialists are available through telemedicine?
A: In addition to a cardiologist consulted to read an ECG, Plaza Health Network residents will have access to opinions from neurologists, pulmonary medicine specialists, dermatologists and others. These medical experts, the 24/7 patient data collection and continuous monitoring services are all possible through this new enhanced model of patient care.
Plaza Health Network will continue to provide the traditional high quality care and personal attention that all our nursing home residents and families have come to expect since 1954. However, through this new cutting-edge technology, we can now offer an even greater level of high-quality care at times when our residents may need it the most. The overarching goals are enhanced outcomes, quicker evaluations, reduced hospital readmissions and better overall health for our patients.