Telehealth in Rural Nevada
Did You Know?
- Home monitoring of chronic diseases is reducing hospital visits by as much as 50% by keeping patients stable through daily monitoring.
- The national average for re-admission to hospitals within 30 days following a heart failure episode is 20%. Telehealth monitoring programs have reduced that level to less than 4%.
- Timely provision of treatments that effectively reverse the consequences of a stroke have risen from 15% to 85% due to the availability of telestroke programs.
- Telehealth support to Intensive Care Units (often called eICUs) is reducing mortality rates by 15 – 30% and substantially reducing complications and length of stay.
- Telehealth retinopathy screening programs support early identification of serious eye disease and reduce the incidence of blindness in diabetic patients.
Telehealth is emerging as a critical component of the healthcare crisis solution. Telehealth holds the promise to significantly impact some of the most challenging problems of our current healthcare system: access to care, cost effective delivery, and distribution of limited providers. Telehealth can change the current paradigm of care and allow for improved access and improved health outcomes in cost effective ways.
Telehealth increases access to healthcare:
Telehealth improves health outcomes:
- Remote facilities and patients can more easily obtain clinical services.
- Remote hospitals can provide emergency and intensive care services.
Telehealth reduces healthcare costs:
- Patients diagnosed and treated earlier often have improved outcomes and less costly treatments.
- Patients with Telehealth supported ICU’s have substantially reduced mortality rates, reduced complications, and reduced hospital stays.
Telehealth assists in addressing shortages and misdistribution of healthcare providers:
- Community, facility, or home monitoring programs can reduce high cost hospital visits.
- High cost patient transfers for stroke and other emergencies are reduced.
- Reduces Medical transport cost for patient transfers for NDOC
Telehealth supports clinical education programs:
- Specialists can serve more patients using Telehealth technologies.
- Nursing shortages can be addressed using Telehealth technologies.
Telehealth improves support for patients and families:
- Rural clinicians can more easily obtain continuing education.
- Rural clinicians can more easily consult with specialists.
Telehealth helps the environment:
- Patients can stay in their local communities and, when hospitalized away from home, can keep in contact with family and friends.
- Many telehealth applications empower patients to play an active role in their healthcare.
Telehealth improves organizational productivity:
- Reducing extended travel to obtain necessary care reduces the related carbon footprint.
- Employees can avoid absences from work when telehealth services are available on site or when employees can remotely participate in consultations about family members.
Telehealth Services Available in Nevada
- Behavioral Health
- Ear, Nose, and Throat
- Health Education
- ICU Intensivists
- Infectious Disease
- Pain Management
- Sleep Medicine
- Surgery – Colorectal
- Surgery - General
Rural Healthcare (RHC) Program
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s Universal Service Fund’s Rural Healthcare (RHC) Program provides support to eligible rural healthcare providers (defined below) that qualify for reduced rates in telecommunications and broadband services, with the intent of making telehealth services more affordable in rural areas. The RHC Program provides up to $571 million annually in reduced rates via reimbursements to rural healthcare providers for broadband and telecom services. There are two (2) subprograms in the RHC Program: the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program and the Telecommunications (Telecom) Program.
Healthcare Connect Fund
The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program provides a flat 65 percent discount on eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity (defined below) to both individual rural healthcare providers (HCPs) and consortia. This means that if the telecommunications service used by a rural facility costs $2,000 per month the program will reimburse the HCP $1,300 a month. Consortia can include non-rural (urban) HCPs if the consortium has a majority of rural sites. A new consortium has three years to obtain membership consisting of a majority of rural sites. As part of a consortia, both an urban HCP’s bandwidth and Internet access expenses are eligible for funding, as well as an offsite data center and/or administration center. However, non-rural hospital sites with 400 or more licensed beds may receive no more than $30,000 per year in support for recurring charges and no more than $70,000 in support for non-recurring charges every five (5) years, exclusive of any costs shared by the network.
The Telecommunications Program provides reduced rates to rural HCPs for telecommunications services related to the use of telemedicine and telehealth. The funding is based on the difference between the cost of service in a rural location versus the cost of the same or similar service in an urban location. For example: a circuit may have a monthly cost of $1,000 in Elko but only $400 in Reno. Under the Telecommunications Program, the HCP in Elko would receive a reimbursement of $600 per month, equalizing the costs with the HCP in Reno.