The unclouded truth of hospital readmissions is that, except for routine services such as body imaging or prescheduled procedures, patients do not return to hospitals unless they have suffered a substantial decline in their health. Making the situation worse for hospitals, several years ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services implemented the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), which financially penalizes hospitals with relatively high rates of Medicare readmissions.
In fact, in 2017, 42% of mid-sized hospitals and 20% of large hospitals received financial penalties, with the average penalty being more than an 0.5% reduction in base Medicare payments. Even for a hospital with only $30 million in annual base Medicare revenue, this amounts to more than $150,000 in penalties.
Reducing hospital readmissions is a challenge, though. For patients living with one or more chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or COPD, trips to the hospital can become commonplace. Once in the cycle, it’s hard to get out.
Enter Remote Patient Monitoring
Solutions offered through ehealth and other web-based portals give patients never-before-seen access to healthcare alternatives. Remote patient monitoring – or telemonitoring – for instance, allows healthcare providers to connect with their patients on a more consistent basis, without the need for (or restriction of) physical surroundings. Through remote patient monitoring, consultations can be performed via computer screen, tablet, or smart phone, making it much more feasible for patients to be treated at home.
Remote patient monitoring also allows for increased education and lifestyle coaching practices, the combination of which goes a long way in reducing the need for hospitalization.
Other tools, such as clinical health call center support and corporate wellness programs, help extend the efforts of care providers by bringing healthcare practices to other areas of a patient’s daily life, such as in the workplace or during off hours.
The Benefits of Reduced Hospitalization
Besides the avoidance of medical-related errors and hospital-acquired illnesses, staying free of hospitalizations can profoundly improve the quality of life for patients in various ways. Hospitals are, of course, extremely expensive places to receive care, and patients who spend weeks, or even months, confined to hospital rooms each year for chronic treatment are often subjected to large deductibles or co-insurance costs.
Without a doubt, ehealth solutions are effective tools for not only reducing hospital readmissions, but also improving every aspect of a patient’s treatment.
About Karen Thomas
Karen Thomas is a certified management accountant and the president of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions, one of the leading telehealth monitoring companies in the U.S. Karen is a nationally renowned speaker, a lecturer for Missouri State University’s graduate-level Health Care Administration program, and a contributing author to, “Home Telehealth: Connecting Care Within the Community,” published by Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd. Karen has appeared on numerous webinars and has spoken at dozens of conferences on the benefits of remote patient monitoring, generating enhanced clinical outcomes, patient engagement, and coordination of care. She is a member of the Missouri Governors Innovation Task Force, a past board member of the National Association for Home Care and Private Duty Home Care Association, a member of the American Telemedicine Association and the American Society on Aging, and a past ex-officio member of the advisory board of HealthCare Technology Association of America.