Case study: Telemedicine helped cut avoidable hospitalizations at New York SNF

To reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, many skilled nursing facilities have considered having primary care providers assess patients at bedside for changes in their condition. However, these providers are not always available on-site.

Telemedicine may prove a successful way to address this issue, according to a study published in The American Journal of Managed Care.

Researchers reviewed the clinical and financial outcomes of an after-hours on-demand telemedicine service implemented at a 365-bed skilled nursing facility in New York City in March 2015. During the first year of the program, off-site providers evaluated 313 patients.

Of the patients who used the telemedicine service during the first year, 259 were treated on-site at the facility, including 91 who avoided hospitalizations and 54 who were later transferred to a hospital. The researchers estimated the associated cost savings to Medicare and other payers exceeded $1.55 million.

The researchers extrapolated Medicare would save $500,000 each year for an average 120-bed facility that implemented a similar program.

"Use of a dedicated virtual after-hours physician coverage service in an SNF demonstrated a significant reduction in avoidable hospitalizations," the study authors concluded.

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Which IT trend is most promising? 29% of provider execs say telemedicine

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