Lexington Health Network

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Jun 19, 2020

Telemedicine Success Story, Improved Clinical Outcomes

Lexington Health Network was featured in a success story on the use of Telemedicine to reduce Hospital readmission’s and improve our clinical outcomes.

LHN understood the importance of controlling avoidable readmissions to the hospital in 2011 and committed to their patients & residents that LHN would implement clinical programs that would have impactful results. LHN began utilizing Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) within all SNFs in 2011 as well as the use of Telemedicine for evening, holidays, and weekends. Lexington Health Network fully believed that introducing more advanced clinical coverage would improve the care that they provided and improve RTH outcomes. The APNs are onsite at all 10 SNFS and provide advanced level of care and assessments to their patients from 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday. The Curatess, Open Telemedicine platform is utilized 6pm to 8:00am Monday-Friday and on holidays and weekends. LHN branded the Curatess, Open Telemedicine platform as “LexConnect” so it was easily identified by staff and partners.

Read the full Success Story

The Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine patient visits increased annually by 261 percent between 2015 and 2017. This method of providing health care is rising in popularity as technology continues to improve. Health care providers can now carry out a thorough assessment of a patient, remotely, without the patient even having to leave their bed or home. There are many advantages to providing medical care in this way. And, ultimately, it secures a better outcome for patients.

Lexington Health Network (LHN) discovered this for themselves when they implemented their telemedicine solution, LexConnect, in 2015. They used LexConnect to reduce hospital readmissions and improve clinical outcomes. Let’s take a look at the advantages of telemedicine and examine how LHN made it work for them.

The Advantages of Telemedicine

If a person is unwell and doesn’t want to inconvenience themselves to receive the medical advice they need, it is better for them.

With telemedicine, a patient doesn’t have to arrange transport, wait in line, and lose a chunk of their day for their appointment. This is also a major factor for people who live in rural or underserved areas, or cannot take time off work. Far too many people choose not to seek medical advice because of the inconvenience.

Virtual consultations mean that patients not only save financially by not having to travel but also undergo less stress, which is much better for their well-being. In addition, a patient is not exposed to infectious diseases and viruses by attending a clinical setting.

In light of COVID-19, people were encouraged to remotely consult a health professional wherever possible to prevent the spread of the disease. On March 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily waved rules so health care providers could bill for remote health care in the same way as in-person visits. We can likely expect the rules surrounding social distancing to continue.

The Benefits for Health Care Professionals

It’s not just patients that benefit from telemedicine. If specialists can see more patients, they can reduce or eliminate waiting times. Many professional organizations endorse telemedicine because it accelerates access to care and advice, and eliminates barriers to it. As a result, patient health outcomes improve.

Health care professionals say that telemedicine enables physicians and health facilities to expand their reach beyond their own offices, see more patients, and improve communication between specialties. Doctors even report improved job satisfaction since it is easier for them to meet with patients. There are fewer hospital admissions and readmissions, and telemedicine appointments facilitate a better work-life balance for them.

Telemedicine can also assist in providing physicians in remote locations with ongoing medical education, equipping them to care for more complex patients in their community.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has said that telemedicine has the potential to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending when properly used.

When to Use Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the perfect solution when you want to talk to your physician about your medication, review your symptoms or test results, ask questions, or access therapy or emotional support.

But there are many more instances when telemedicine is ideal. Telemedicine is used for:

  •     Prenatal care and routine checkups
  •     Diabetes care and management
  •     Consultations with a sleep specialist and access to sleep medicine
  •     Psychological assessments
  •     Consultations for mental and behavioral health

Also, some oncology providers meet their patients using telemedicine.

With telemedicine, patients receive care, advice, and education without the time and cost burden of traveling to the clinic or the hospital.

Paying for Telemedicine

Whether your insurance company will pay for telemedicine depends on your location. Some states have parity laws that require insurance companies to reimburse at the same rate as they would for in-person care. Although this doesn’t apply to Illinois, there is proposed legislation to change the law. Therefore, you need to check with your insurance company whether they will reimburse you for telemedicine.

Case Study: LexConnect Telemedicine Solution from Lexington Health Network

Now let’s take a look at a real case scenario where telemedicine was used to improve patient outcomes. A privately owned and operated company, Lexington Health Network (LHN) manages more than 2,000 beds in 10 different post-acute, nursing, and long-term care buildings.

LHN opened its first Health Care Center in 1984 and now operates 10 Skilled Nursing Facilities, as well as hundreds of retirement units and assisted living units, and provides a diverse network of Home Health and Hospice Services.

In 2012, to elevate the care they provided for their patients in their SNFs during the day, they implemented Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) to provide in-person, advanced clinical oversight.

However, patients that experienced a sudden change in conditions during the evening or night shift often had to be readmitted to the hospital, something LHN felt strongly they should address.

So, in 2015, LHN introduced its telemedicine tool. The Essential Care Plus Medicine solution was called LexConnect – a HIPAA compliant and HITRUST certified secure platform.

LexConnect provided remote APN clinical oversight via telemedicine, 24/7, to all patients and residents. LexConnect was not a replacement to 911; it was used for changes in conditions when the nursing staff determines a 911 call is not necessary.

The mobile and web platform allows doctors to assess, diagnose, and treat patients from any location. LexConnect integrates with FDA-approved smart Bluetooth wireless peripherals, including Eko Digital Stethoscope, Omron Blood Pressure, and Nonin Pulse Oximeter. Doctors could carry out a comprehensive assessment and determine if a patent needed to be readmitted to the hospital without the patient having to leave their bed.

The staff used LexConnect to manage sudden changes in conditions. And, since it was an open solution, any clinician could utilize it. Attending Physicians and Payer Employed APNs could use the system to manage their patients’ changes in conditions.

The outcomes exceeded expectations. Eighty-six percent of patients that were evaluated via LexConnect were treated in place without a return to the hospital. Therefore, LexConnect had an extremely positive impact on the number of hospital readmissions. LexConnect is used in every building, every day, and LHN is proud to have a return to hospital rate of only 12 percent across all 10 of their Skilled Nursing Facilities.

LexConnect is just one example of how we are the premier post-acute network in the Chicagoland market. Striving to exceed expectations, LHN is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to achieve the best outcomes for all our patients and residents. Get in touch with Lexington Health for more information about our telemedicine services.