Shawnee, Kansas (July 12, 2018) --- Two nursing homes in remote portions of Kansas are changing the standard of rural care by using advanced technology to ensure patients and residents have bedside access to primary and specialty care services that until now were mostly only available in urban and metropolitan areas.
Highland Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Doniphan County and Richmond Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Franklin County recently adopted new telemedicine models that assign a dedicated practitioner to each facility, where clinicians are available on weekdays and on demand to work virtually with nursing teams as part of regular and scheduled rounds.
“This is really a new approach to rural care and it’s going to bring tremendous benefits to our residents and patients,” said Tony Johnson, executive vice president of operations for Recover-Care, which operates both facilities. “With this technology, we’re able to offer our residents an entirely new level of primary and specialty care, ensuring they get the focused, fast attention they need to treat their medical issues, stay healthy and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.”
Having daily virtual access to an on-site medical team in rural nursing homes helps to avoid hospitalizations when medical conditions change. It also reduces the need for long and costly trips outside of rural facilities for basic evaluations or specialty consults and eliminates the delays in waiting for an open appointment.
And, with so many changes affecting long-term care, especially among nursing homes, the telemedicine program, TapestryCare ™ by Tapestry Telehealth, is designed to help facilities improve Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quality and rating measures.
The programs in place at Highland and Richmond are unique telemedicine models that provide a dedicated nurse practitioner supported by a full-scope multi-specialty medical and behavioral health group. Having a dedicated practitioner means he or she gets to know the patients as much as the staff, and that knowledge and consistency of care help to improve medical outcomes. Most telemedicine programs only offer silos of care --- for wound care or psychiatry, for example --- rather than a comprehensive medical team.
The primary care team includes nurse practitioners who integrate with the facilities’ attending physicians. Specialty services include wound care, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, neurology, pain control, palliative care, pulmonology, renal-nephrology and physiatry. Patients have access to daily behavioral services, including both scheduled and 24/7 emergency mental health care and family communication and support.
“Everyone deserves access to quality health care, no matter where they live,” Tapestry’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Chess said. “But making sure medical care is available on site every day in rural nursing homes is a challenge. Programs like this close the gap to improve lives and enhance care. Telemedicine services also reduce costs on our health-care system by helping to prevent avoidable and unnecessary hospitalizations.”
How Rural Telemedicine Works
Both Highland and Richmond have access to easy-to-use, portable telemedicine carts that put medical professionals at the bedside as part of daily rounds or in moments when conditions change or concerns emerge. The stations are designed for quick visits and simple setup to save nurses time and make seeing patients easy.
A large monitor allows residents and medical professionals to see and speak directly with each other in real time. Working closely with facility nursing staff, clinicians examine patients using a digitally enhanced stethoscope to listen to the heart, lungs and chest; an otoscope to examine the throat and ears; and a high-definition camera to examine even the smallest wound or skin irritation.
The facility nurse and telehealth clinician also work cooperatively to conduct thorough abdominal, musculoskeletal and neurological examinations. Each visit takes about five minutes for the physical assessment. The telehealth clinicians can order tests, start treatments and monitor conditions, and because they are dedicated to the facilities, they stay involved every step of the way to ensure patients get healthy and families stay informed.
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For more information about Recover-Care’s Highland and Richmond skilled nursing facilities, visit: www.recover-care.com. For more information about Tapestry Telehealth’s TapestryCare™ telemedicine program, visit: www.tapestrytelehealth.com.
Media Contact: Tony Johnson, Recover-Care, 913-416-4182
Kurt Knaus, Tapestry, 717-571-5687