Telehealth integrated into EHR is the way to go for CarDon & Associates
October 19, 2021
The skilled nursing organization has a 90% treat-in-place rate for all telehealth encounters, and data from its platform has helped identify areas for improvement.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, CarDon & Associates, which operates 20 senior housing/skilled nursing communities in the Midwest, was exploring different ideas to give its staff time back, improve resident outcomes and reduce rehospitalizations.
The organization wanted an effective telehealth platform with new technologies to streamline the process for contacting physicians and improving documentation in its system of record. It also wanted to give its nurses a sense of confidence with technology that could guide them through assessments to keep residents in-house.
"Once the pandemic started, we had to act fast and implement new portable devices and temporary solutions to provide virtual physician and consult visits as well as provide our residents a way to connect with their families and friends," said Brandy Armstrong, RN, director of clinical information at CarDon & Associates.
"The swift implementation worked, but we still wanted a better, more secure solution that would assist our staff and provide quality care for our residents. The pandemic made searching for a telehealth platform a higher priority."
CarDon & Associates turned to Third Eye Health for a telehealth solution. The telehealth technology offered fast connectivity with access to board-certified, state-licensed physicians who are trained to provide care in a post-acute setting. Coverage includes nights, weekends and holidays.
"The solution includes a care coordination team that facilitates communication between our care team and their physicians," Armstrong explained. "Our care team could communicate with telehealth physicians and the care coordination team through the platform. The system sends alerts to the user's email for new messages, watch lists and new encounters.
"The purpose of the platform was to provide an easy-to-use application on a portable device that would give our nurses quick access to physicians to treat our residents in-house, improve documentation and provide reporting and analytics."
Brandy Armstrong, RN, CarDon & Associates
"They also offer a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant platform that integrates with our EHR," she continued. "All telehealth-generated documentation includes a wet signature that imports from their platform into our system of record."
Lastly, the vendor offers reporting and analytics that measure clinical performance, usage, resident encounters treated in place and chief complaints.
"The purpose of the platform was to provide an easy-to-use application on a portable device that would give our nurses quick access to physicians to treat our residents in-house, improve documentation and provide reporting and analytics," she said.
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MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Before implementing the telehealth solution, CarDon & Associates distributed iPads to all nurses and CNAs, so it was already starting to transition to a more mobile workflow. After it deployed portable devices, the organization started implementing the new telehealth solution with training provided by vendor staff.
"Our nurses use the telehealth platform heavily as part of their everyday workflow during the evening and weekend coverage time," Armstrong noted. "The nurses have a portable device to use specifically for telehealth encounters. They sign in at the beginning of their shift and contact the telehealth provider when needed.
"The nurses use the platform for new admissions, readmissions, bridging scripts and changes in condition," she added. "They can have video encounters with the touch of a button and interact with a physician within two minutes."
The telehealth solution is integrated with the organization's system of record from vendor MatrixCare. The organization collaborates with telehealth vendor staff along with MatrixCare staff to ensure successful integration with each facility at which it implements the technology, she said.
To date, CarDon & Associates has a 90% treat-in-place rate for all telehealth encounters. Out of 2,090 consults, 1,826 residents were treated in place. Using the data in the telehealth platform, the organization was able to identify areas for improvement. And improved documentation has been integrated with the system of record.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
Armstrong has a variety of tips for healthcare organizations considering similar telehealth systems integrated with EHR technology:
Identify what problems you are trying to solve, what goals you are trying to meet and how you will evaluate outcomes.
Determine who in your organization will develop a policy and procedure, and who will be involved with planning, implementation and evaluation.
Involve frontline staff in discussions to get their input, insight and buy-in. Buy-in will be necessary for the implementation phase.
Consider appointing a champion to help with ongoing education to ensure the technology is being used the way it was intended.
Share your outcomes with staff members within your organization.
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