Virtual Visits Case Study

InteractiveCare conducted a pilot of its telehealth platform to gather feedback from leaders in the home healthcare industry. With guidance from a prominent home health and hospice agency, InteractiveCare developed a virtual visit and communication platform making it possible for patients and nurses to connect via audio and video at any time.

From March to August 2017, InteractiveCare conducted a pilot of its telehealth platform to gather feedback from leaders in the home healthcare industry. With guidance from a prominent home health and hospice agency, InteractiveCare developed a virtual visit and communication platform making it possible for patients and nurses to connect via audio and video at any time.

The pilot was designed to test several factors related to virtual visits including patient and nurse adoption, call patterns, and outcomes. The pilot successfully demonstrated the value of virtual visits and the need to have solutions that are tailored to the unique needs of nurses and patients in home health.

Clinical staff identified the significant benefits through a reduction of readmissions and unplanned visits. Patients and family caregivers appreciated the security of knowing they could have a face-to-face encounter with their nurse within moments of having a concern for their health.

The Solutions

Using mobile application technology and back-end infrastructure from Sorenson Communications – a platform that handles millions of minutes of video calls each month – InteractiveCare built an application for nurses and an application specifically for their patients. Both applications were delivered on consumer-grade Android tablets with LTE cellular data plans from AT&T.

Unlike any other solution on the market, InteractiveCare’s nurse application was built to fully support the agency’s existing communication workflow for both daytime and after-hours call escalation paths. For example, when a patient places a video call, the call rings multiple tablets at the agency simultaneously. The first nurse that answers can either handle the call themselves or transfer the call to the nurse assigned specifically to the patient.

After hours patient calls are redirected to the assigned on-call nurse for the evening. If the first on-call nurse does not answer, the call will automatically roll over to the next nurse in line.

The Results

Installations and Usage
A total of 49 InteractiveCare tablets were installed at patients’ homes and 46 tablets were provided to nurses, aides and therapists working for the home health care agency. During the six month pilot, 250 calls were placed resulting in five hours and ten minutes’ worth of video calls.

On average, calls from a patient to the agency or nurse were answered in just under 15 seconds, while calls from a nurse to a patient were answered in just over two seconds. Patients averaged just over three calls per month, while nurses placed nearly five calls each month to patients.

A best practice learned by the pilot was to tie virtual visits to a specific clinical or quality assurance program for optimal use. During the pilot, programs ranged from Friday night tuck-in calls to patient, surveys, and regularly scheduled follow up visits. Unlike check-ins over telephone alone, having video allowed nurses to resolve issues that would have otherwise required an in-person visit.

One early example of the benefits of video came about when a nurse helped walk a family caregiver through the process of clearing a clogged feeding tube. Having the ability to see the issue, the nurse was able to resolve the clogged tube in a five-minute video call – thus avoiding a 20-minute drive to the patient’s home.

Feedback from Nurses
Following five months of use, a survey of nursing staff was conducted to gather feedback on their experience with virtual visits. Below is a sample of the outcomes:

What were the most common reasons nurses asked for an InteractiveCare tablet to be installed for their patients?
46% of tablets provided to patients were given to help reduce the possibility of readmission.

Maintaining contact with critical care patients, patients with CHF or wound care needs were among the most common conditions for which nurses made the decision to get an InteractiveCare tablet for their patient.

What were the most common reasons for a patient to call a nurse?
35% of patients tended to make video calls on their own when they noticed a change in their condition that concerned them.

What were the most common reasons for a nurse to call a patient?
Tuck-in and regular follow up calls were the most common reasons to contact a patient. Making these calls ensures patients have what they need for the night or the weekend.

What were the most common outcomes from making virtual visits?
At 30%, avoiding an unplanned visit was the most common response to our question regarding outcomes. Unplanned visits are costly to agencies. Agencies must either schedule a PRN, or an assigned nurse must adjust their schedule to accommodate patient needs.  It is also important to note that 15% of respondents felt the calls prevented a visit to the ER.

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