SNF aims to cut ER visits with telemed

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A New Jersey provider is testing out telemedicine services in its skilled-nursing facilities, in the hopes that it might cut back on unnecessary ER visits.

The Ocean Healthcare Network in Lakewood, N.J., last month installed such remote monitoring services in three post-acute care centers. It will tap into telemed during times when doctors are not on duty — such as overnight, during the weekend and on holidays.

Telemed services used in the pilot program are provided by TripleCare, which is based in New York City and specializes in remote monitoring for SNFs. During those off hours, docs will perform duties such as virtually visiting the bedside, and working in concert with Ocean Healthcare nurses to decide if patients can be treated in place or need a transfer to the hospital.

“It is known that one of the biggest challenges in skilled nursing care is ‘off' hours — evenings and weekends,” said Joseph Kiernan, Ocean Healthcare's chief strategy officer and senior vice president of network development. “While we have physicians on staff, it isn't realistic to have doctors onsite around the clock to respond to every emergent situation. In the past, we would likely have sent patients to the ER to ensure their stability. Now, with TripleCare, we can greatly reduce these ER visits while improving patient outcomes.”