Telehealth in Long-Term and Post-Acute Care Facilities
Long term and post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities deal with patients with complex and highly specialized needs focusing essentially on quality and patient care satisfaction. With the exponential growth of population in the last decade, the number of LTPAC hospitals has grown significantly, progressing to more facilities and patient care quality.
There is no doubt in saying that LTPAC has impressively improved clinical practice with the focal concern towards specialized needs of patients, but due to the COVID-19 situation, LTPAC services have been affected as it has made it quite difficult for patients who were previously served by LTPAC organizations.
There have been two major problems that led to these consequences. There was a high risk involved because patients had to travel to see their health specialists or doctors risking their lives to many infections. Secondly, the doctors were also at stake when they had to travel to their clinics and hospitals despite the spread of the deadly virus.
As a result, it was very difficult for the patients and residents to receive the care and medical attention when they needed it the most.
Lately, many LTPAC facilities have shifted towards Telehealth, which is comparatively a new concept but gained popularity after the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth came into use during these extreme times and helped those in need and care.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth utilizes the latest telecommunication technologies to provide multiple health facilities like assessments, diagnosis, therapies, and consultations to patients regardless of the massive distance barriers.
A number of modern technologies are used in telehealth like telephones, faxes, mail systems, and video conferencing to collect and monitor data and provide high-quality consultation to patients without any delay.
Telehealth and LTPAC Facilities
The use of telehealth by LTPAC organizations has been relatively slow in recent times partly due to a lack of education and training but now due to the global pandemic, health organizations are forced to integrate themselves with telehealth to improve their services.
Telehealth has proved itself a huge asset in improving health services in these times while keeping patients, residents, and doctors safe as well.
LTPAC uses a number of different telehealth services in their health care settings, out of which some are listed below:
It is also known as store and forward. In this telehealth service, the medical information of the patient and residents in form of reports, history, or images is transferred electronically to healthcare providers. With this asynchronous telehealth, the health care provider receives all the data he/she needs, allowing patients to get the maximum benefit from high-quality health services. The health care provider can also review this information later at all times.
Also known as real-time interactive systems, synchronous telehealth provides health care by utilizing modern technologies used in face-to-face video conferencing that help the residents and patients to interact with their physicians and health care providers.
This telehealth is more like a virtual meeting where patients and doctors have direct interaction through video conferencing. Synchronous telehealth also includes facilitated virtual visits (FVV) where the machines and diagnostic equipment are arranged close to the patient and the health practitioner is remote.
The machines are used to collect the patient’s necessary information and history by the medical assistant and pass on the information to the remote provider that helps him address the situation.
- Mobile Health (mHealth)
This telehealth uses everyday technology like mobile phones, tablets, software and utilizes them to monitor blood sugar level, blood pressure, weight, etc, and helps to enhance health care services. Mobile health (mHealth) was defined by WHO as the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support health objectives.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
RPM involves the collection of health data in one place and transferring it to a health care provider at another location for monitoring. Healthcare providers can track the patient’s progress and recovery rate and get alerts if there are any warnings or declining states.
Using telehealth in LTPAC can keep everyone safe by providing several facilities including:
Make residents and providers equally satisfied
Easy access to care, including mental care, wound care, advanced care planning, etc.
Reduce the number of unnecessary frequent hospital transfers
Ensure timely and life-saving interventions