The Hot Topic In Healthcare
To say that costs are a big topic in healthcare is an understatement. With changing Medicare reimbursement regulations, challenges with staffing retention, and low patient volumes, many community hospitals are happy to break even. However, there are several steps that rural hospitals can take to improve outcomes and generate income.
The continuum of care
In all of healthcare, focusing on the continuum of care is crucial. How efficiently do patients get from the waiting room back home? Speed is not the only factor. Ensuring that patients get both timely and high-quality care is a constant challenge. One area where rural hospitals, in particular, should focus is pre-registration.
During initial admitting, getting all the correct information from patients is critical. When the case management team fails to get adequate information from the patient, the result is often a higher rate of inappropriate admissions. Additionally, hospital staff should use pre-registration as an opportunity to have a conversation with patients about costs and insurance coverage.
Many rural healthcare organizations have seen success in improving pre-registration processes. One way to do this is to bulk up the case management team. But with low budgets, rural hospitals typically are already operating with a lean staff. The solution may be remote case management teams. These remote employees can help triage patients and keep the pre-registration process running smoothly when the full-time staff is not on shift.
To increase revenue, community hospitals would do well to maximize reimbursement. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has shifted from fee-for-service models to value-based payment models. Often, rural communities have a large percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients. However, the local hospital often lacks the staffing resources to adequately document the quality measures that are crucial for maximizing reimbursement. In these cases, telecase management teams can help to reduce inefficiencies, improve quality metrics, and decrease lengths of stay.
A focus on telehealth
More and more, telehealth solutions can contribute significantly to cost savings while also improving outcomes. In one hospital, patients in the waiting room had a short virtual consultation with a healthcare provider as part of the triage process. Because the overhead associated with telemedicine is so much lower than in-office visits, utilizing remote medicine options not only improves efficiency but also significantly lowers costs.
Improving outcomes, generating income
With today’s telehealth options, remote case management teams and telemedicine can help to lower overhead, improve efficiency, and improve outcomes. Especially in rural settings, these strategies can make a crucial difference. Find out more about how telehealth can provide significant benefits for the community hospital.