- CATEGORIES: Nurses
- No comments
Could Telehealth Save Medicare?
Currently, Medicare is waning under the pressure of much of America’s population living longer than they system can support. With this in mind, the healthcare system is desperately in need of innovative ways to improve healthcare and reduce costs. One proposed solution to the problem is the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 which is the beginning of a revamp of Medicare’s approach to treatment and care that could improve American health and lower healthcare costs as a whole. Telehealth allows patients to contact a nurse or physician directly via their cell phone or a computer to discuss symptoms and receive care without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Though telehealth as a whole includes many moving parts, one essential component for the success of telehealth is telephone nurse triage. Telephone nurse triage is a system by which Registered Nurses are available to take patient phone calls and determine the proper amount of care needed in the proper time frame. Nurses use standardized symptom based protocol guidelines to ensure high quality of care with every phone call.
With convenient access to nurses 24/7 patients are empowered to make the right decisions about their health and what the next steps for their symptoms should be. Patients who better understand their conditions and have a method of self-management such as access to a registered nurse are more able to decipher to the appropriate level of care, thus avoiding costly ER visits and improving overall patient satisfaction.
What makes a triage nurse successful?
An important aspect for making the use of nurses in telehealth successful is to have the nurses in direct contact with physicians. In many systems such as TriageLogic’s Nurse Triage On Call,
triage Nurses communicate patient call information with providers, allowing for better patient relationships with their provider and continuity of care. Nurse triage facilitates the best use of the healthcare workforce by alleviating doctor pressure and allowing them to reach the most urgent cases first.
By utilizing telephone nurse triage as an affordable telehealth option, everyone benefits: Providers can rest assured that their patients are receiving the best care possible. Patients are satisfied with their care and confident in decisions made regarding symptoms they were once unsure of; And the cost of healthcare in America will be driven down by the efficiency and convenience of patient access to healthcare professionals at reduced costs.
Currently most Americans think of telehealth as an option for those living in remote areas where it may be difficult to visit a doctor’s office, but there is infinite value in the use of telemedicine in urban city centers where Emergency Room census can be extremely high. Telehealth provides a positive alternative to unnecessary Urgent Care and Emergency Room visits, lowers hospital readmissions, and with the healthcare costs saved, could in fact save Medicare.
What to read next: Reducing Hospital Readmissions