On Tuesday, May 4th, The Association for Home & Hospice Care of North Carolina (AHHC) held a webinar highlighting 3HC’s telehealth and RPM program. A Step-by-Step Approach by 3HC to Enhance Your Telehealth & RPM Program explored how to effectively leverage telehealth and RPM as tools to extend patient care. 3HC launched its telehealth program with HRS in 2018 and has achieved a 30-day rehospitalization rate of 4.17%, increased cost savings, improved patient engagement, and a 96% patient satisfaction rate.
Throughout the webinar Ann Hall, RN, COS-C, Virtual Care & TeleMed Manager at 3HC offered insight on three lessons 3HC’s telehealth team learned over the last year. From staff buy-in to patient engagement and program expansion, Ann discussed how she and her team were able to create optimal processes for each and lessons they learned along the way.
1. Clinical Buy-In is Crucial for Telehealth Program Success
Staff and clinical buy-in for any new process or program are essential to its success. Early on in the telehealth program's tenure, Ann recognized that clinical buy-in is a crucial factor to the success of their program. Especially over the past year, with telehealth becoming a standard of care, optimizing buy-in across clinical staff was, and remains a priority.
One key factor that helped encourage clinical staff was seeing strong buy-in from the leadership and executive-level. Ann worked one-on-one with her staff to ensure proper training, education, and transparency around all things telehealth. She made herself the dedicated point of contact for her teams—she conducted training calls, provided extra education, and ensured that she was always available to answer any questions relating to the program.
2. Patient Engagement Leads to Better Self-Symptom Management
As many home health and hospice organizations with an aging population can relate to, 3HC has learned the importance of not just enrolling a patient in telehealth, but keeping them engaged throughout their care journey. One of the many ways telehealth benefits patients is by providing them with educational materials, tools, and resources to manage and understand their condition(s). It gives them the confidence to care for themselves in their own home.
When 3HC launched their telehealth program, they started with HRS’ PatientConnect Complete kits—tablet, BP cuff, scale, pulse oximeter. In April 2020, 3HC recognized the need to adapt to patient needs and introduced the PatientConnect Mobile app—HRS’ BYOD application. Having a wide patient population across rural North Carolina, it’s no question that connectivity came into play. Using their own smart devices, patients know the exact locations in the home that their devices operate at optimal functionality, thus limiting connectivity issues and minimizing patients from being discouraged by telehealth.
“We wanted to make sure the patients knew what to do when we weren’t there anymore. So we had to make those modifications and get into those habits so they can continue to monitor themselves daily, so they can learn what symptoms were going to link them back to the hospital or an ER visit.”
- Ann Hall, RN, COS-C, Virtual Care & TeleMed Manager
3. Expanding Telehealth Means Offering Care to More Patients
Having seen success with the PC Mobile app and their Home Health populations, 3HC has taken steps toward expanding their program to include hospice & palliative care, heart attack, AFib, cardiac surgery, and joint replacement patients. They have studied several metrics such as readmission reduction, utilization, patient engagement, and patient satisfaction to determine program success. With metrics improving across the board, 3HC evaluated the success of the program and showed that as healthcare continues to change, telehealth needs to adapt as well. This evaluation only reinforced the fact that more patient populations can benefit greatly from telehealth.
Whether launching a telehealth and RPM program from scratch or expanding a current program, the lessons learned from Ann and the team at 3HC can assist with where to start. Successful programs come with a fluid operational process, small changes, and the knowledge that something that worked one year ago might not work long-term. Understanding rapidly changing patient needs and the importance of education is key to keeping patients engaged and clinicians bought into the program. Studying all available metrics is helpful to evaluate not only program success, but patient outcomes as well.