Technology companies have been developing tools to support remote monitoring, allowing hospitals to discharge patients to their homes with the hope that data gathered from remote monitoring tools can help them lower reimbursement rates and avoid penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A new Frost & Sullivan report suggests that post-acute care facilities could strengthen their positions in an increasingly competitive landscape by integrating contact-free continuous monitoring technology products, which could help them improve outcomes for high acuity patients.
Frost & Sullivan estimates that an “average” post-acute care facility with 106 beds could increase revenue by 22 percent or $3.6 million. The report projects that it could boost profits by 13 percent. With continuous monitoring devices in place, post-acute care facilities could accept more medically complex patients who generate higher reimbursement rates.
So who are these passive data collection device developers that Frost & Sullivan refers to? EarlySense is the one company cited by report author Charlie Whelan. The Israeli business with offices in Massachusetts developed an FDA-cleared monitoring device that fits under a mattress. Part of the goal of its monitoring device is to track and analyze hospital staff’s performance to prevent falls and pressure ulcers. The device also addresses alarm fatigue risk by alerting nurses about changes in a patient’s heart rate only when those changes have exceeded a certain threshold. The idea is to avoid hospital staff getting overwhelmed by data but also having enough data-derived insights to do their jobs effectively.
In a phone interview, Whelan conceded that relatively few post-acute care facilities have implemented passive monitoring technology like EarlySense. But the fact that these facilities will be able to leverage it to do a better job of monitoring sicker, high acuity patients and more of them. Whelan noted that by high acuity patients, he is referring to people on dialysis, receiving IV medication, or on a ventilator. Facilities that can do a better job of caring for them with better outcomes will help them drive revenues and grab greater market share.
“The thing I kept hearing from people I spoke to [at the post-acute care facilities] is that the continuous monitoring technology will allow them to be more competitive, that they were delivering an extra layer of expertise, and will produce more referrals,” Whelan said.
Another factor to consider, the report noted, is that skilled nursing facilities, which are one type of post-acute care facility, will be subject to fines if their readmission rates surpass the national average as part of the CMS value-based purchasing program set to go into effect this October. Whelan cautioned that it will be a gradual issue.
“The most progressive skilled nursing facilities have already started instituting policies to address this issue.”
Some hospitals are using remote monitoring technology to cut their readmission rates and that’s allowing patients to recover from home. The idea is that care teams can spot complications earlier and take appropriate action before readmission is required. As these programs prove successful, more institutions will adopt them and that will impact the kinds of patients post-acute care facilities see, Whelan observed.
“Hospitals are leapfrogging post-acute care facilities and sending patients home. The patients that are going to post-acute care facilities tend to be a lot sicker.”