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At this time, there are plenty of incentives for LTC facilities to adopt telemedicine. Readmissions are costly, and Medicare is cracking down on them. Under the Affordable Care Act, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will penalize hospitals for excess readmission rates starting in 2013. Telemedicine can help prevent readmissions by enabling LTC facilities that receive hospital discharge patients to monitor patient conditions remotely. Telemedicine enables providers to more efficiently reach post-discharge and post-acute patients, especially those with chronic conditions, to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
One of telemedicine’s most promising benefit in the LTC arena is the reduction of resident hospitalization and readmissions, especially for chronic disease. An estimated 40 percent of nursing facility residents are admitted to the hospital in a typical year, and one-quarter of these may be preventable. Of these admissions, about 14 percent of the patients were discharged directly from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities and sent back to the hospital for conditions that could have been avoided.