SummitWest Care Supports Home Recovery of COVID-19 Patients through Telehealth
SummitWest Care is a non-profit home health agency, that has been serving communities in Western Colorado since 2002. SummitWest Care is committed to serving people of all ages, helping them remain safely and independently at home. SummitWest Care offers medical services such as Skilled Nursing and Physical/Occupational Therapy that help prevent hospitalizations, ensure patients heal after surgery, and support patients in managing their chronic illnesses and disabilities.
Located in a rural community in Western Colorado, SummitWest Care was closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in neighboring communities and states. In August 2020, anticipating a spike in cases and hospitalizations, SummitWest Care launched a telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) program.
With RPM, SummitWest Care aimed to confront the following challenges faced by the Colorado communities it serves:
Restricted access to healthcare providers and health-related education with nearly 150 rural hospitals having closed nationwide since 2010.
Increased patient anxiety as COVID-19 cases rose throughout the state, significantly impacting patients with pre-existing and chronic conditions.
Limited hospital capacity due to COVID-19 hospitalizations, compounded by a significant year-of-year increase in the state population and healthcare utilization.
SummitWest Care implemented a telehealth and RPM program to bridge the gap between clients and healthcare, enabling patients to remain in their homes while still receiving quality care, sparing vulnerable communities the risk of infection and expensive emergency care costs. SummitWest Care partnered with local hospitals, physician offices, and a local university to reach more patients and provide COVID-19 symptom monitoring and treatment. Particularly for patients with chronic conditions, concerned with contracting COVID-19, SummitWest aimed to comfort patients through the use of telehealth services and 24/7 clinical support. While enrolled on the telehealth program, SummitWest patient’s received customized care plans, complete with condition-specific symptom surveys and educational videos.
3 Ways SummitWest Leveraged Telehealth to Support Patients:
COVID-19 Screening: Provided daily COVID-19 screening questions to all patients enrolled in the telehealth program, allowing for rapid identification of new COVID-19 cases.
24/7 Biometric and Symptom Monitoring: Triaged patients’ vital signs and symptom surveys, enabling clinicians to identify exacerbations and prevent hospitalizations
HIPAA-compliant Virtual Visits: Performed weekly virtual visits to review patient care plans, including medications and daily activities, and assess patient status.
We see telehealth and RPM as an essential service for chronic care patients, post-surgical patients, patients with a high fall risk, and patients at-risk or recovering from the Coronavirus.
Charleen Raaum, RN, Chief Executive Officer
30-Day Hospital Readmission Rate
Average Patient Adherence Rate
Patient Satisfaction Rate
Since launching the telehealth and RPM program in August 2020, SummitWest Care has monitored COVID-19 patients, along with chronic care patients diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease, among others. During that time, SummitWest Care averaged a 6.6% 30-day hospital readmission rate.
Increasing patient engagement and clinical interactions were key goals of the SummitWest Care team when launching a telehealth program. To achieve this goal, SummitWest’s team performed weekly and as-needed virtual visits, as well as regular phone calls to ensure patient compliance. This enhanced communication has resulted in daily patient adherence rates over 90% for biometric readings.
In addition, assuaging patient anxiety was a focus of the telehealth program during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Over 96% of telehealth patients stated they felt more supported by their care team due to telehealth, and 96% reported being satisfied with the program.