In a recent hearing with the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, innovation in health care, specifically, telehealth was discussed at great lengths. It is thought that telehealth has great promise in the long-term care industry, especially for those facilities that are in rural areas, however, there needs to be some work on a two-sided risk model first.
Statistics have shown that an average of 19% of all hospital transfers come from long-term care and skilled nursing facilities, with 1 in every 5 patients being readmitted within 30 days. However, there have been some great results in using telehealth to not only cut down on these visits but allow providers to be with their patients from afar, while the patient remains in the comfort of their own environment.
While many still believe that telehealth is too expensive, the long-term care setting is one area where it can save money in more ways than one. Deploying telehealth in a rural long-term care facility could save thousands of dollars for the facility, insurance, and the patient.
While rural settings would most definitely see a cost savings, most fear it is just another way to cut health care costs, which has led to the discussion of taking on more risk. Most believe that for telehealth to reach its full potential, facilities and providers alike will have to take on a two-side risk model.
If more facilities and providers are willing to move to a two-sided risk model, where an incentive not to overspend in use of the technology, but still use it appropriately can happen, then CMS can loosen the rules on telemedicine. The goal is to make a two-sided risk model work for everyone, so that these technologies can be used to help treat patients more effectively and efficiently.
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