Home Health, Telehealth Partnerships Increased Access To Care Amid Pandemic
Home Health, Telehealth Partnerships Increased Access To Care Amid Pandemic – Home Health Care News
Home health providers can help meet the needs of vulnerable patients that need skilled services in their home through telehealth and virtual partnerships.
That’s according to a new study conducted by AccentCare and Sound Physicians, a telehealth and physician service provider.
The study also found that when telehealth was offered, there were timely initiations of care for patients that may have otherwise been denied home health services.
“By leveraging telehealth to connect the patient, clinician and physician, we found that our clinicians were able to immediately meet the needs of our complex patients by developing the plan of care along with the physician and patient in real-time,” Daniel Kevorkian, co-author of the study and AccentCare’s VP of clinical innovation and technology, told Home Health Care News in an email.
AccentCare is a Dallas-based home-based care provider. It operates in 32 states across the country.
The idea for the study was partly inspired by the telehealth waivers that were granted during the public health emergency (PHE). During the pandemic, access-to-care issues proliferated. Inpatient facilities needed to discharge patients rapidly to create bedspace for incoming sick patients. At the same time, fewer post-acute inpatient settings were accepting patients.
The home health benefit had historically been dependent on a face-to-face encounter between the patient and their certifying physician.
Telehealth services acted as a life raft for many during the PHE, however. AccentCare and Sound Physicians leveraged the flexibilities given during the pandemic and created a virtual care management tool to improve access to care through communication, scheduling and virtual visits.
The pilot program lasted six months. Nearly 300 patients were admitted and started home health services with virtual physicians underneath the program.
For example, a patient needing venipuncture for laboratory analysis would meet virtually with Sound Physicians. The physician would then process the order and the in-home, AccentCare would be able to draw the lab immediately.
In the pilot, patients received a timely initiation of home health care 98.6% of the time. That was higher than the national average of 95.8%, according to a report from Strategic HealthCare Partners.
Since the pilot, over 1,000 additional patients have participated in the expanded program with similar results, AccentCare reported.
In its synopsis, the two companies feel confident that “widespread utilization of telehealth physician coordination” could significantly improve home health care.
“Home-based providers should take note of ways to leverage technology to better care for our patients,” Kevorkian said. “I feel as though providers should continue to explore new and innovative ways to meet the unique challenges of the home health industry. The results show that leveraging telehealth to connect with physicians to enable home health care is a viable solution to explore further.”