Yesterday Patriot welcomed Devin Wilgus to our office. Mr. Wilgus works closely with US Congressman David Joyce (R-OH 14th District) as a Wounded Warrior Fellow & District Outreach Representative. The Patriot team discussed the benefits of telehealth visits in the treatment of home healthcare patients. As of now home healthcare telehealth visits are not reimbursable by CMS, or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, but Patriot is hoping to spread the message that telehealth visits are becoming increasingly effective – and necessary – in the home health setting, especially in the age of COVID-19. Once our patients are home, Patriot’s main goal is to keep patients out of the hospital. These virtual home health visits are a convenient and effective way for our clinicians to evaluate the needs of our patients while keeping patients and clinicians safe by allowing visits to be done through the phone or computer.
Physical Therapist Todd Rowan demonstrated a telehealth therapy re-evaluation with an actual patient for Mr. Wilgus and Patriot management Sean Davis, Greg Davis, and Jodi McHenry. Todd was able to connect with his patient and her caregiver through a virtual platform that allowed him to assess her range of motion, observe her daily exercises, and discuss her overall progress with her treatments. When asked about how she feels about telehealth visits, the patient said that she definitely sees the benefits – as long as she can still chat and be goofy with Todd as they would in person!
Todd agreed with his patient’s thoughts. While he acknowledges that telehealth visits won’t be a replacement for all home health visits, they’re an extremely useful way to safely check in with patients and address any non-urgent concerns they may have. In addition to safety, Todd also mentions that telehealth visits are a great way to boost productivity for clinicians – meaning they can see and give care to more patients in a day than if they needed to drive to each home.
Certified Family Nurse Practitioner Cathy Lileas from our Patriot Housecall division also sat down with Mr. Wilgus to show him how telehealth visits are beneficial from a primary care standpoint as well. Currently CMS does approve reimbursement for primary care telehealth visits, and Cathy demonstrated a post-hospitalization evaluation on a patient that lives in a local assisted living facility with assistance from a licensed practical nurse from the facility. At the facility where the patient resides there is a current policy that any time a resident leaves for any reason, they must be quarantined in their room for 14 days upon their return – this includes leaving for primary care doctor’s office visits. By utilizing virtual visits, the patient was able to avoid having to quarantine while also getting the standard care she needs. Cathy was able to review the patient’s hospital information, obtain her current vital signs, and order additional diagnostic testing for the patient – all while the patient remained in the comfort of her own home.
After the visit Cathy shared her thoughts on telehealth visits with Mr. Wilgus and the team, and she had nothing but positive things to say about the digital platform. According to Cathy, even though not all of her patients are able to have caregivers present at the time of their visit she is finding that with education on the technology needed for virtual visits, most of her elderly patients are willing to go virtual. In this particular patient’s case, Cathy estimates that approximately 4 weeks of wait and quarantine time was saved during this one virtual visit.
Patriot has been working to learn more about telehealth and all the benefits using a virtual platform can bring. Primary care physicians and specialists all around Ohio – and the rest of the country – have been taking advantage of this safe, convenient way to provide care to their patients, and Patriot is excited to bring those benefits to our homecare patients.