How Telehealth Optimizes Staff Productivity and Outcomes in Hospice Care

Recently, Jody Holmes-Dion (Director of Operational Consulting for Hospice at WellSky) shared her experiences and perspectives on the future state of hospice care and how virtual care will continue to play a critical role in optimizing productivity and outcomes:

  • Improving Productivity Amidst Staffing Shortages: “Especially during the pandemic when we’re struggling with staffing, we needed to make sure that we optimize those in-person visits for those patients that needed them. So, telehealth really provided us with that, while at the same time allowing us to intervene on issues that patients were having, outside of that in-person visit. It improved productivity, particularly in the evening visits, after hour visits in weekends and reduced caregiver utilization of the ER, which again, is another value-based purchasing idea out there that they’re looking to reduce overall healthcare costs.”
  • Addressing Geographical Barriers to Care: “Telehealth helped reduce some of the geographical challenges. A lot of our hospices are large organizations now and we’re spanning a large geographic area and our patients live in very rural areas. So it’s essential for hospice to offer individualized communication and information so telehealth can help us do that and access that patient provider relationship and help manage those patients’ health issues and eliminate traveling challenges that hospice staff have. In addition, telehealth helped us reduce costs by improving staff productivity, while improving quality and optimize the clinical resources in those rural areas when time was of the essence to meet those patient needs… It helped us prioritize those in-person visits because obviously telehealth is not going to take the place of all visits.”
  • Optimizing Decision-Making While Reducing Rehospitalizations: “It’s like an extra tool in the nurses’ tool bag, and it just helps optimize that, versus decision making around what she should do for this patient at this point in time, given the clinical parameters that she’s seeing… It improves quality of life by improving outcomes and reduces acute care re-hospitalization. Telehealth enables us to position ourselves to meet the growing needs of a diverse population and allows hospices to help the most patients at the least cost… Telehealth is extremely important in helping us reduce emergency room visits by intervening with that patient. The on-demand nature of it, where the caregiver can reach out in the middle of the night when they’re having questions about what they should do around symptom management, instead of them immediately picking up the phone and calling the ambulance and sending their loved one into the hospital. Those benefits of reducing cost are tremendously important in this model of care.”

 

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