American Health Communities, a division of Franklin, Tennessee-based American Health Partners, has been awarded a nearly $800,000 grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement a new telemedicine program being launched today in 28 skilled nursing facilities throughout Middle and West Tennessee.
The grant will make American Health Communities' physicians and nurse practitioners available to residents via two-way video conferencing and live analytics for real-time medical consultations. The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round, allowing a thorough assessment with current diagnostics for a more accurate plan of care.
The new telemedicine program aims to improve the quality of life for residents and prevents unnecessary hospitalizations, which reduces exposure to hospital-acquired illnesses and eliminates extensive wait times in emergency rooms and stressful ambulance rides.
“Telemedicine reduces the risk of exposing our fragile patients to viruses and infections by treating them in place instead of sending them to a hospital, sometimes hours away,” said Nina Monroe, vice president of quality and clinical operations, American Health Communities. “Patients and their families will have more autonomy in health care decision-making and obtain valuable medical consultations when and where it's most convenient.”
American Health Communities partnered with Let's Talk Interactive to implement its telemedicine system that uses HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software, live analytics, and a host of equipment and peripherals. These include a panoramic camera, a dermascope, a general exam scope, an otoscope, an EKG stethoscope for heart and lungs, and a vitals monitor for blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
“We are continually working to improve our service levels to our residents and their families,” said Greg Haynes, vice president of operations, American Health Communities. “This technology makes it much easier to provide diagnostic and preventive services to our residents on site which is more efficient, prevents unnecessary hospital visits and improves care for our residents and patients.”
Each year, approximately 25% of all long-stay and post-acute residents in nursing homes are hospitalized. CMS estimates as many as two-thirds of these hospitalizations are considered potentially avoidable. These potentially avoidable visits are costly, expose nursing home residents to additional health risks and exact a toll on patients and families.
The grant was awarded through the Tennessee Civil Monetary Penalty Reinvestment Program administered by the Tennessee Department of Health and funded by CMS.
For a list of American Health Communities' locations, please visit AHCseniorcare.com/communities.
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About American Health Communities (AHC)
American Health Communities, a division of Franklin, Tennessee-based American Health Partners operates a network of 29 senior living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers in Tennessee and Alabama. AHC specializes in caring for seniors by providing a full range of short-term and long-term health care in a home-like environment. The majority of AHC skilled nursing facilities have achieved the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for meeting the highest national standards for safety and quality of care.* For more information, visit AHCseniorcare.com or call (615) 902-5200. (*Visit AHCseniorcare.com/communities for a complete list.