Is the Time Right for Skilled Nursing Facilities to Embrace Telehealth?
Southview Acres Health Care Center in St. Paul, MN, and Affinity Healthcare Center in Paramount, CA, will be piloting a connected health platform this fall from Curve Health. The platform provides SNF staff with telemedicine tools that connect them with physicians and specialists, allowing them to seek help whenever a resident is in need of healthcare services.
SNFs and other assisted living facilities have traditionally faced difficulties using telehealth for resident care, primarily due to low reimbursement and challenges in proving sustainability. Few facilities were able to justify the expense of a telehealth service that Medicare wouldnâ€™t support, and they couldnâ€™t find enough data to prove better clinical outcomes over a large population.
That changed with COVID-19, which prompted state and federal lawmakers to ease the rules on telehealth access and coverage. Faced with a lack of access to in-person care, SNFs joined the rush, looking for platforms that would allow them to provide virtual care for residents without bringing in providers or transferring them to local hospitals.
"The pandemic has opened the industry's eyes to the importance of telemedicine-based services in SNFs, and the regulatory environment now supports the growth of Curve and its partnership with forward-looking organizations like Southview,â€ Avi Katz, who owns Southview Acres, said in a May 6 press release announcing the partnership. â€œWe're expecting the immediate accessibility of physicians to enable a more seamless patient and family experience and a significant decline in unnecessary hospitalizations."