Older people -- a segment often potentially suspicious of new technology -- have proved open to the introduction of telemedicine, according to the owners of dozens of nursing facilities across six states.
Cleveland-based Saber Healthcare Group, in partnership with Connecticut-headquartered TeleCare Partners Group, is in the process of rolling out the program in its 88 homes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. The plan is to make physician care available 24-7 .
Michael Demagall, Saber Healthcare's vice president of population health and business development, said the reason for introducing the system was, chiefly, to improve care and services.
The company wanted to be able to deliver to patients a high tech high touch model of care by its staff and physicians, Demagall told HR Daily Wire, adding the company was committed to being "an active participant in health care innovation and overall improvements in the delivery of health care."
Demagall said the rollout is "going fairly well," but there are the "typical challenges with IT infrastructure, training with staff, and use of services after initial training."
"However, as we continue to train, and improve infrastructure at our facilities we continue to see increased usage, and improvements in care and service delivery," Demagall said. "As we continue to grow as an organization we will look to continue to expand our services with telehealth."
He noted that patients and families have been very open to this service.
"They have been excited about the additional opportunities to have increased communication and access to physicians, and the exciting new use of technology," Demagali said.
It is also an exciting time for the physicians.
"This has been part of Saber’s application of the Quadruple Aim Model of Care by helping our physician with work life balance in providing them an opportunity for additional physician support," he said. "In addition we have the ability with our telehealth partner TPG, to expand services to our own physicians, patients’ personal physicians, and other specialty physicians as we expand and grow."
More tasks can be performed as an on-call physician can be at the beside -- remotely -- and effectively communicate an assessment with a nurse, in real time, Demagall said.
"Currently, Saber has a stethoscope on all telehealth carts so the physicians are able to hear in real time heart and lung sounds, right alongside of the nurse," he said. "We also have the ability to expand to additional assessment tools in the future."
Lou Daniels, CEO of TeleCare Partners Group, said last November in a press release announcing the launch of the system that it's as if the physician is in the room.
"Now simple diagnoses can be made at 2 a.m., when a physician is not physically available, and spare an elderly patient a trip to the emergency room," Daniels said.