Value-based care is becoming the modus operandi of the healthcare system, by way of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Hospitals are monetarily incentivized to keep patients out of hospitals, both in terms of overall health as well as coordinating care better and steering patients to appropriate providers instead of emergency rooms.
At the same time, hospitals are trying to determine if federal financial incentives from the PPACA make up for the revenue they lose by seeing fewer patients, according to a Bloomberg article.
"Can you create a situation ultimately where you're treating fewer people in the hospital and doing fewer higher-reimbursement treatments? That's a real risk," said Dan Steingart, a healthcare analyst for Moody's, in the report. "If your contracts only pay you on a pure fee-for-service basis, you're basically shooting yourself in the foot."
Boosting care quality and reducing patient volumes were the impetus behind Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's recent investment in virtual care. "The best way to save the system lots of money is to keep [patients] out of the hospital," said Steve Klasko, CEO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in the report.
To do so, the hospital turned to telehealth. Thomas Jefferson University hospital is investing $20 million to open two urgent care centers and develop a video consultation program so patients can receive care from their homes, according to the report.
The hospital plans to use the technology to coordinate care with primary care physicians and even develop a "virtual emergency department" to remotely triage ER patients, according to the report.
By investing in telehealth, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is making the push for quality care. Judd Hollander, an emergency physician involved with the hospital's telehealth program, said in the report the hospital's investment in virtual care will be successful "when the ERs start closing."