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Telemonitoring, electronic orders improve efficiency
Check state regs for use of electronic signatures
A shrinking work force, expanding patient base, and sicker patients are challenges that many agencies are meeting with technology.
Telemonitoring is one way to increase contact with the patient and to monitor the patient on a daily basis without making a visit, says Beth Carpenter, president of Beth Carpenter and Associates, a Chicago-based health care consulting firm.
"Small agencies find it most difficult to implement telemonitoring because of the financial commitment," Carpenter says. "Although telemonitoring can keep nurses from making too many visits, it can also help a nurse identify the need to amend a visit schedule."
Frequent monitoring of a patient's vital signs helps a nurse identify potential problems or the need to adjust a patient care plan quickly, she points out. "This flexibility is important to good patient care, but CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] regulations don't help us be flexible, because we are still required to get orders and physician signatures for every change," she says. Electronic orders and electronic physician signatures are one way to speed up changes in care plans, but the ability to use them varies from state to state, Carpenter points out.