OhioHealth Earns Patient Buy-In for Telehealth, Reduces Rehospitalizations

Home health providers are leveraging technology to decrease rehospitalizations and otherwise improve patient outcomes and worker safety, but they might have to overcome pushback from patients who are resistant to these devices, a new study reveals.

It’s no secret that older Americans’ No. 1 preference to receive care is in their home, yet the majority of older Americans (66%) have not made any modifications to their home to make it more aging-friendly, according to a recent study by assisted living software review and research company Software Advice.

Seniors and families have been slow to adopt tech-based home safety measures, data show. In fact, 80% of adult children with senior parents said they would not be interested in receiving electronic updates about their parents’ health and home-safety conditions from a home health clinician, should they need such a clinician.

Yet the role technology is playing in people’s long-term health care is an important one, experts say.

For OhioHealth Home Care (OHHC), the use of telehealth, or technology to support remote medical devices, has been particularly effective. 

“A key strategy for reducing re-hospitalization at OhioHealth Home Care has been our focus on specific chronic disease management,” Jim Newbrough, president of OhioHealth Home Care, tells HHCN. “Providing telehealth monitoring has proven very effect for our congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients.”

As of December 2014, OHHC’s re-hospitalization rate for CHF was 18.5% versus the national benchmark of 25.5%, data show. For COPD, OHHC’s re-hospitalization rate was 16% versus the national benchmark of 24.4%.

OHHC uses home health software for care documentation in the home that includes a fall risk assessment.  

While the majority (67%) of adult children with senior parents feel “extremely” or “very confident” in the safety of their parent’s homes, accidental falls are the leading cause of deadly injuries among older adults, many of whom are especially vulnerable living alone, according to Software Advice data.

OHHC’s software utilizes a national standardized test to determine the patients risk for falls, Newbrough explains. 

“The software provides a score after the test is completed,” he says. “If the patient is at high risk for a fall, we provide fall prevention education [and] occupational therapists do a comprehensive home safety assessment.”

Software is also used by clinicians to record all medications and all changes to medications ordered by the physician. In addition, a drug interaction tool greatly reduces the risk of adverse drug reactions and also alerts the patient if there is a potential for a fall due to a new drug ordered by the physician.

To encourage patients to get on board with adopting technology into their health care plan, OHHC provides a comprehensive brochure to every patient about OhioHealth privacy practices. 

In addition, OHHC encourages the use of smart phones, computers, and remote alarm devices for patients.  

“This improves their connection and communication to their families and health care providers through texting, access to their medical records and information through OhioHealth patient portals, and to look at any number of remote alarm devices in case of emergency,” he says.

View the Software Advice study’s findings here

Written by Cassandra Dowell

Cassandra Dowell