UMC Awarded Grant
On May 28, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 53 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program totaling $18.22 million. United Methodist Communities (UMC) was among the health care providers.
Components of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program include resident-based internet-connect, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), video consults, and remote treatment. RPM focuses on residents without COVID-19 symptoms or conditions, mental health (non-emergency), other infectious diseases and routine, non-urgent care; COVID-19 residents will be treated directly. UMC’s experience in virtual care, clinical infrastructure, and integrated delivery system, support the implementation of the program.
The program utilizes a remote patient monitoring platform and telehealth software licenses in skilled nursing setting to help prevent falls, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPU), sepsis, and other dangerous conditions without requiring excessive in-person monitoring. It allows for remote consultations in settings where either provider shortages or COVID-19 impacts would delay or prevent access to specialty or nursing care.
Working with Trusted Partnerships
VirtuSense Technologies (VST), an artificial intelligence company using IoT, machine vision, and AI for providing transformative care, offers VSTOne. This technology allows clinical staff to monitor high-risk resident rooms remotely in order to reduce in-person contact, lowering the risk of transmitting COVID-19 among their associates or residents while conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).
The platform uses a combination of wearable and machine vision sensors to detect bed and chair exits, enable two-way video communication between residents and associates, and monitor vitals like heart rate, respiratory rate, surface body temp, and oxygen saturation for COVID-19 residents. When abnormalities in vitals and bed exits are detected, alerts are sent directly to the attending associate’s phone and central consoles. The data and analytics support early intervention and promote better resident outcomes.
The video chat communication component, through Netsmart, facilitates telehealth visits between residents and their primary and specialty care providers. This technology allows residents greater access to their physicians in a safe, secure environment. It gives the physicians the ability to privately meet with their patients under the umbrella of a single system. It helps meet their care needs while practicing responsible social distancing during COVID-19.
Using the telemedicine and RPM technology, residents with less than severe symptoms or conditions that do not require mechanical ventilation or ICU services can be monitored and cared for in a less intense setting allowing for ICU beds to be utilized only for those who require mechanical ventilation or other invasive support. This also helps maintain social distancing protocols helping reduce the spread of the virus.
Game Changer for Senior Living
The goals of COVID-19 Telehealth Funding program are to demonstrate how to more effectively utilize resources within a skilled nursing setting including specialty consultative physicians, primary care physicians, as virtually patient advocates; allow for more intensive monitoring and visualization of the patient maximizing traditionally less intense acute care rooms to function with greater intensity, efficiency and effectiveness; and allow for the appropriate use of ICU and more intense setting increasing their capacity.
Learn more about VSTOne
Multiple metrics will help measure the program’s impact, such as decreased “never events” (falls and HAPUS), mortality and morbidity of infectious residents (including sepsis), lengths of stay, time to consultative services from order to the resident. Increase measurements include consultative services, nursing virtual contact as a percentage of nursing contact compared to baseline, social distancing scoring, and patient satisfaction.
The overall goals are to improve health outcomes through connected care, reduce the costs of delivering healthcare, maintain the level of healthcare our residents deserve, and to help facilitate connected care among UMC’s partners.