Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. According to the CDC, 1.5 million people in the United States were diagnosed with pneumonia and required emergency department care in 2018. 

Because pneumonia is one of the conditions covered by the Hospital Readmission and Reduction Program (HRRP), lowering the readmission rate for pneumonia is a top priority to provide better care for patients and avoid penalties associated with a high readmission rate. 

This article will look at how telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) can help educate pneumonia patients about their condition and how healthcare providers can benefit from implementing telehealth and RPM to provide better care and reduce readmissions. 

Understanding Pneumonia 

In pneumonia, the air sacs of one or both of your lungs may become inflamed and fill with pus or other liquids, resulting in fluid or phlegm-filled coughs and difficulty breathing. The severity of pneumonia can range from mild to life-threatening depending on the health, age, and the type of microorganism affecting the individual. 

Pneumonia Causes 

The direct causes of pneumonia can be grouped into a few main groups, with the main types of pneumonia being: 

  • Bacterial 
  • Viral 
  • Mycoplasma 
  • Fungi 

Pneumonia Symptoms 

Common signs and symptoms of pneumonia include: 

  • Chest pains while breathing or coughing 
  • Confusion or changes in mental state, particularly in elderly patients 
  • Fever, sweating, and chills 
  • Coughs that can produce green, yellow, or bloody phlegm  
  • Fatigue and weariness 
  • Rapid breathing and pulse 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea 
  • Shortness of breath 

In cases where a viral infection causes pneumonia, additional symptoms may include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Weakness 
  • Worsening cough 

Diagnosing Pneumonia 

The extent of the illness and your recent health history (such as illness, surgery, or travel exposure) are usually used to make a diagnosis. The following tests may be used to confirm a pneumonia diagnosis: 

  • Chest X-ray or CT scan 
  • Blood tests 
  • Sputum culture 
  • Pulse oximetry 
  • Bronchoscopy 
  • Pleural fluid culture 

Treating Pneumonia 

When it comes to pneumonia treatment, the main goal is to get rid of the infection and prevent complications from occurring.  

Bacterial pneumonia is typically treated with antibiotics, with the specific antibiotic used depending on the type of microorganism causing the condition. Doctors may also recommend additional rest, fluid intake, and fever medication in addition to antibiotics treatment. While most patients with pneumonia can be treated at home with oral antibiotics, hospitalizations do occur for those critically ill or at high risk of complications, where they may require monitoring and extra oxygen depending on the severity of their illness. 

Pneumonia Readmissions 

According to a study, hospital readmissions for pneumonia patients are frequent, costly, and potentially avoidable, with 30-day readmissions estimated to occur in 17-25% of patients hospitalized for pneumonia.  

One of the ways healthcare organizations can resolve this issue is through better patient education of pneumonia symptom management and treatment compliance for recovering patients. 

How HRS Telehealth & RPM Solutions Can Help Pneumonia Patients 

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) allows healthcare providers to receive real-time updates on the conditions of at-risk or recently discharged pneumonia patients, allowing for a better home care environment and reduction in hospital readmissions. 

Among the benefits RPM can pose to both patients and healthcare providers include: 

Biometrics Monitoring and Symptom Surveys 

Through Bluetooth peripherals such as a pulse oximeter, blood pressure, ECG + stethoscope, and thermometer, healthcare providers can monitor any changes in their patients' vital signs in real time. 

The telehealth platform also enables patients to monitor their condition via symptom surveys, allowing them to provide direct feedback on how they are feeling and their current health status. 

Using both vital sign monitoring and symptom surveys, healthcare providers can accurately track and detect changes in patient health, allowing them to address any worsening symptoms promptly. 

Access to Educational Material 

Patient education is critical to ensuring that pneumonia patients fully understand their condition and the steps they must take to recover completely. HRS offers a comprehensive library of learning materials to pneumonia patients who need more information about their condition and how to best manage it. 

Our videos include: 

  • Understanding Pneumonia              
  • Pneumonia: Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Reinfection   
  • Pneumonia: The Importance of an Early Diagnosis  
  • Pneumonia: Preventing Re-infection                                                                  
  • Pneumonia: Regaining Lung Function      
  • Pneumonia: At-Home Guidelines to Recovery 
  • Infection Prevention: Hand Washing   
  • What is Sepsis?  

Medication Adherence

For pneumonia patients undergoing antibiotic treatment, they need to complete their entire course of antibiotics to ensure they're entirely free of the bacteria and to prevent the development of a drug-resistant strain, which can cause health complications further down the line. 

Using the HRS platform, healthcare providers can set medication reminders to ensure that their pneumonia patients adhere to antibiotic regimens and fully recover. 

Virtual Care Visits 

When it is inconvenient for a pneumonia patient to leave the house, telehealth allows them to have virtual care visits instead of in-person appointments. Healthcare providers can also use this feature for triaging in case of symptom exacerbation. 

Furthermore, healthcare providers can use virtual visits to provide additional patient education training about the patient’s condition and answer any pressing questions that they may have. 

Implement Better Pneumonia Patient Education With HRS 

Health Recovery Solutions has the technology and experience to implement telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs for your organization.  

For more information about our solutions and our educational materials for pneumonia patients, have a chat with one of our digital health specialists today! 

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