Pediatric Home Service sees telemedicine as bonus opportunity

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Friday, April 20, 2018

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – A patient homecare visit that would normally take about six hours with travel time took Jill Anderson, a respiratory therapist with Pediatric Home Service, 30 minutes to complete using telemedicine.

“We were able to do her oxygen follow-up completely remotely,” said Anderson. “I estimate I save about 40 hours a month driving to and from these visits.”

PHS, a provider of home infusion, nutrition and respiratory services to children, began offering telemed to its oxygen patients about six months ago. Using the Zoom mobile communications app, Anderson sets up the call and sends an invite.

During the call, she goes through her typical visit checklist: where are oxygen tanks stored; do they know how to put the regulator on the tank and turn it on; what are their patient demographics like allergies, medications and weight; are they having any difficulty getting supplies or having any other issues.

“It’s like FaceTime,” said Anderson. “We are able to actually see everything we need to see in the home that we normally would be doing for a home visit.”

The telemed sessions are kind of a bonus visit to ensure safe patient care because there is no reimbursement for the sessions—but the provider wasn’t getting paid for the in-home visits either.

“There’s a lot of potential for telemed in many aspects, but the biggest problem is to get paid for it,” said Roy Maynard, medical director for PHS. “I think as reimbursement moves forward, it will become more prevalent.”

With a territory that stretches across Minnesota and into parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas, the primary benefit of telemed to PHS is the cost savings on gas, mileage and clinician time. Anderson puts about 50,000 miles a year on her car for home visits.

All that time saved means more time to spend with higher-needs children, she said.