DALLAS, Nov. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - TheraCare Home Health (TheraCare) today announced the launch of a telehealth and remote patient monitoring program across ten of their branches from San Antonio to Dallas. In partnership with Health Recovery Solutions (HRS), a national telehealth provider, TheraCare aims to reduce strain on local hospital resources as communities prepare for another surge in COVID-19 cases.
TheraCare is part of Cantex Continuing Care Network (Cantex), which operates more than 4,400 skilled nursing facility (SNF) beds through post-acute skilled nursing, home health and hospice care agencies across Central, East and North Texas.
About the Telehealth Program
COVID-positive patients receiving treatment at local hospitals who are deemed candidates for home recovery are discharged from the hospital and directly enrolled in TheraCare's telehealth program to be monitored at home throughout their recovery. Through the program, TheraCare enables partnering hospitals to reduce patients' length of stay while also optimizing staffing resources and bed utilization.
"While many providers are using virtual visits to conduct routine care appointments, TheraCare Home Health is one of the first home health programs in the state to adopt such an innovative and robust telehealth platform for our patients," said Ty Jelinek, Cantex Director of Home and Community Based Services. "We're thrilled to launch this program, especially at a time when our patients and communities need it most."
TheraCare to Use Telehealth to Monitor High-Risk Patients
Though initially focused on COVID-19 patients and prevention, TheraCare will also use telehealth to monitor high-risk patients including those with diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients identified for and enrolled in TheraCare's telehealth program receive a 4G Samsung tablet and Bluetooth biometric devices upon discharge, enabling them to record their daily vital signs. The patient tablet comes preloaded with care plans, symptom surveys, educational videos and more, all customizable to the patient's condition and needs which allows TheraCare clinicians to provide individualized patient care. Patients also have the ability to communicate directly with healthcare providers by phone, text message or video call.
"As a home health care provider, we see firsthand how challenging the pandemic is for hospitals and patients. We also had to re-think what it meant to deliver high-quality at-home care in the safest way possible," said Jelinek. "We invested a significant amount of thought and care into developing this telehealth resource because we want to help be a part of the solution."
In addition to assisting local hospitals in reducing readmissions, TheraCare has partnered with Cantex's 37 SNFs across Texas to improve patient transitions from SNF to home. A recent study published in 2019 by the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that 24.2% of Medicare patients discharged from SNFs were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. Through telehealth and remote patient monitoring, TheraCare can provide seamless monitoring of patients' vitals and symptoms as they transition home, enabling them to intervene in cases of symptom exacerbation and prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Improving Patient Experiences and Outcomes
To personalize patient care and improve patients' long-term quality of life, TheraCare is placing patient and caregiver education at the center of the telehealth program. Through educational videos, symptom surveys, disease-specific quizzes and virtual visits, TheraCare will further educate and engage patients in their care, with the goal of improving health outcomes.
One Patient's Story
TheraCare patient Jerry Dunnavant recently enrolled in the program after his chronic conditions led to a string of hospitalizations over several months. With the support of telehealth, Dunnavant said he feels more supported in his care and connected to the TheraCare team.
"I was going to the hospital every month, which was very difficult–even more so with the added risk of exposure to COVID-19." said Dunnavant. "This system is easy to use, the nurses call and check up on me often, and it has kept me out of the hospital for seven weeks now. I am really happy to have this option for my care."
TheraCare partner Elysian Hospice plans to use the telehealth platform to strengthen its existing services and provide information on pain management, advanced directives and counseling services through the telehealth platform, in addition to managing patient symptoms and pain. As the elderly and those receiving inpatient care are particularly isolated during the pandemic, the tablets' video conferencing abilities also make it easier for patients to connect with their families, and for family to connect with the care team.
TheraCare will also use virtual visits to provide physical therapy appointments and assessments for post-surgical patients. At the onset of 2020, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services implemented the Patient-Driven Groupings Model, effectively limiting the number of in-person physical therapy visits patients are eligible to receive. By offering virtual appointments, TheraCare can ensure patients get the full support they need to recover.