Telehealth program slashes lengths of stay, boosts outcomes

'The results speak to its efficacy'
By Eric Wicklund
11:08 AM
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Telehealth

A telehealth program that engages patients before and after their hip and knee replacement procedures not only made those patients feel better about the experience and their providers, but reduced length of stay and improved post-discharge responses.

VOX Telehealth, based in Princeton, New Jersey, reported those results from a study conducted at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, where the program was compared to the hospital's traditional process and national averages.

According to VOX officials, 92 percent of patients enrolled in the telehealth platform -- which starts 30 days before surgery and continues until 60-90 days after surgery -- were discharged directly to home, compared to a national average of only 30 percent. Officials attribute that improvement to the fact that patients are more prepared for the process, so there are fewer complications or concerns that would merit a longer stay of transfer to another facility (length of stay, in fact, dropped to 1.6 days, compared to the hospital's average of two days and the national average of 3.7 days).

[See also: Medicare slow to adopt telemedicine due to cost concerns.]

"The benefit of VOX's program is that it takes the whole process into account -- from pre-op to the hospital process to post-op," Matthew A. Dobzyniak, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital, said in a press release. "It creates a better medical state for the patient before surgery (and) leads to shorter hospital stays and a quicker recovery. We agree with the fundamental and philosophical structure of the program, and the results speak to its efficacy."

The VOX platform is designed to help patients prepare for and recover from their surgery, offering educational content, reminders and notes on potential symptoms that can be tied to a notification and alert system customized for the patient.

According to the study, 91 percent of the patients on the VOX platform said it helped them to manage their expectations before surgery, and that same percentage said they were very satisified with the overall care they received. In addition, 93 percent said the platform improved their episode-of-care experience, and 55 percent said it made them more satisfied with their physician and hospital.

Two other statistics stand out to hospital administrators: Almost 80 percent of the patients using VOX responded to the post-discharge surveys 30 or more days after the surgery, compared to national averages of 18 percent of less. And none of the patient involved had to be readmitted within 30 days, compared to a national rate of around 6 percent.

"We believe that many programs are too light in their preparation and engagement of the patient to actually impact a patient's experience and outcomes," David Brown, founder and CEO of VOX Telehealth, said in the release. "VOX is designed to ask a lot of the patient, but by doing so, we are truly empowering them to become an active partner in their episode of care, which greatly enhances their experience, greatly reduces the clinical workflow, and greatly improves the overall outcomes."

This story first appeared on Healthcare IT News' sister site mHealth News here.