October 25, 2023

Enhancing post-acute care with telemedicine: A game-changer for skilled nursing facilities

By Brian Carpenter, MD, CMO for Sound Telemedicine  

Telemedicine plays an important role at the bedside in our hospital programs, with life-saving and life-changing care when and where patients need it most. And we’ve also seen the power of telemedicine outside of the hospital in caring for some of the most vulnerable patients – those in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). We’re a powerful ally to SNFs, whose collaboration with our telemedicine teams has proven instrumental in being able to treat patients in place, improve their quality of care, and curb hospital admissions and readmissions.

Bridging gaps with telemedicine 

Telemedicine physicians play a critical role by filling gaps in care provision. Their availability during off-hours ensures timely consultation, care, and guidance on the appropriate course of action for patients. Telemedicine physicians become invaluable resources for evenings, weekends, and times when the onsite medical team is unavailable, ensuring patients receive prompt attention. 

Collaboration is key 

While SNF onsite clinical teams manage patients daily, after-hours can be challenging with fewer available personnel to make urgent decisions. Telemedicine partnerships mitigate this issue, ensuring a physician is readily available and prepared for potential late-night calls. This collaboration can significantly reduce hospital readmissions, minimizing patient and family disruptions. 

Easing transitions of care 

Transitions of care can lead to potential complications for patients. Telemedicine helps manage transfers and offers an emergency department (ED) management protocol. Virtual clinicians liaise with ED physicians to discuss the patient’s situation and potentially avoid unnecessary readmissions. This strategic approach often results in patients returning from the ED without an inpatient admission. 

Making it easier for SNF teams 

Integrating a telemedicine team seamlessly into existing clinical workflows is essential. SNF teams need efficiency and ease of engagement without lengthy ramp-ups. Sound’s telemedicine programs ensure quick and straightforward integration, offering training modules for SNF staff to facilitate usage. Access to patient records and streamlined communication further enhance the collaboration, resulting in a hassle-free experience. 

Improved patient care and outcomes 

The impact of telemedicine partnerships is best seen in the positive outcomes experienced by SNFs across the country. Patients benefiting from reduced transfers and hospital stays experience increased morale and overall well-being. These partnerships also help SNFs avoid penalties associated with unnecessary transfers and enjoy enhanced team efficiency. 

The future of telehealth in post-acute care 

Telemedicine is an integral and permanent part of the evolving healthcare landscape. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable patients and ensures they receive timely and appropriate care. By seamlessly integrating into SNFs, telemedicine closes care gaps and remains a crucial tool in providing patients with the care they need, precisely when they need it. 

If you want to learn more about how Sound telemedicine improves care in SNFs and hear from real Sound partners, click here to read the full Provider Magazine article. 

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