Rural Nursing Homes Nationwide Embracing New Telemedicine Program
Updated: Jul 23
New service offers more than just silos of care; facilities have access to dedicated nurse practitioner supported by full medical team
Tapestry Telehealth’s new telemedicine model, where facilities are assigned a dedicated nurse practitioner for true continuous care, is quickly being embraced by rural nursing homes across the country for giving patients and residents regular access to primary and specialty care services.
Launched less than a year ago, Tapestry Telehealth’s innovative program now operates in dozens of facilities across 12 states --- Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Telehealth, or telemedicine, is by no means new or unique. But Tapestry Telehealth’s model is.
Most telemedicine programs offer only silos of care --- for wound care or psychiatry, for example. Or, they offer only “urgent care” or after-hours coverage models, focusing on one-off encounters rather than a continuous true primary care relationship.
That’s what makes Tapestry Telehealth different. With TapestryCare™, facilities get a comprehensive medical team and a dedicated nurse practitioner supported by a full-scope multi-specialty medical and behavioral health group. The Tapestry team integrates with the facility nursing and medical teams, even doing regularly scheduled rounds with patients.
“We know that having a dedicated practitioner is important because it means he or she gets to know the residents and patients as much as the staff, and that knowledge and consistency of care help to improve medical outcomes,” Dr. David Chess, founder, president and chief medical officer of Tapestry Telehealth.
Having daily virtual access to an on-site medical team in rural nursing homes helps to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations when medical conditions change. It also reduces the need for long, costly and uncomfortable trips outside the facilities for basic evaluations or specialty consults and eliminates delays in waiting for an open appointment.
A study published in the June 2018 issue of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine finds that having an embedded advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) improves the quality measure (QM) scores of nursing homes.
The findings are significant for rural nursing homes whose locations make it difficult to attract and retain full-time, in-house APRNs without telemedicine.
Similarly, findings of a study reported in August 2018 in The American Journal of Managed Care® show that using telemedicine at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) can reduce hospitalizations and produce savings for Medicare. The study was led by Dr. Chess.
The case study explored the impact of having a physician available on demand for assessment and treatment of changes in medical conditions. When doctors could be reached via telemedicine, 29 percent of the patients evaluated avoided a hospital visit, saving $1.55 million over the course of a year, according to the study results.
ABCM Corp. in Hampton, Iowa, recently won the Innovator Bronze Award through a trade industry competition for its use of Tapestry Telehealth’s telemedicine platform. The company is using TapestryCare™ in seven nursing homes in remote portions of northcentral and southeastern Iowa.
“Health care is evolving rapidly,” Tapestry Chief Operating Officer Mordy Eisenberg said. “Tapestry Telehealth is working with its partners not only to keep pace, but to lead the way.”
With TapestryCare™, 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.
Tapestry Telehealth’s program also helps facilities improve and maintain Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quality and rating measures, especially as regulations governing long-term care change.
For more information about Tapestry Telehealth’s program, visit: www.tapestrytelehealth.com.