Reducing patient readmissions with telemedicine technology

By Jean McCormick, R.N., M.S.N.

Open dialogue is vital to building and maintaining successful health care collaborations. Having a “brown bag” session is a dynamic approach to educate, communicate and maintain that collaboration. It is also an important way to establish and maintain relationships between OHSU and transitional care facilities in addition to working toward a larger goal – reducing patient readmissions.

Since December 2012, the OHSU Telemedicine Network has offered a series of educational sessions with Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) using videoconferencing software that can link up to 40 sites at one time. These sessions open up many avenues for discussion regarding nursing skills, research, and best practices.

Currently, the OHSU Telemedicine Network is connected to three of Prestige Care’s skilled nursing facilities. Our first four educational sessions focused on complex subjects that include care and use of PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) lines, infectious disease, antibiotics and lab tests.

Although none of us knew what to expect when we launched the series, these lunch-time learning sessions were well received. Seeing everyone connected on a screen in a “Brady Bunch” format was great. Thanks to technology, these sessions also were completely interactive. For example, all of the participants were able to see a demonstration of the best approach to changing a dressing for the PICC lines that were performed on patient manikins. By discussing, simulating, educating, and collaborating, the discussions facilitate better care for the patient along with standardizing practice, which means improved outcomes and hopefully fewer readmissions.

Clearly, the same technology that allows OHSU specialists to treat patients across the state by way of the OHSU Telemedicine Network also makes it possible to improve collaboration with health care staff at area skilled nursing facilities – and no one has to leave their work place to participate in this learning experience.

OHSU has now presented four “brown bags” and while it’s still a work in progress, new ideas and topics are on the horizon. It has become another mode of communication that links OHSU with transitional care facilities, improving patient care and reducing complications and health care costs.