Do You Need A Nurse?

August 20th, 2012

With Medicare breathing down the necks of hospitals to reduce readmission rates, it might be time to revisit your clinical management to ensure that you have right staff to handle the “fun” coming our way.

If a patient is being discharged from the hospital with home healthcare it will be the home health nurse who is responsible for communicating to you that patient’s condition.  Home health nurses operate on the front line and are an extension of your practice.   Therefore, your ability to direct patient interventions in a timely manner is essential.  Often, home health nurses contact a physician’s office to report adverse findings only to be transferred voice mail that is checked twice daily handed or transferred to medical assistant that may or may not understand the gravity of the situation such as a 7 pound weight gain in 24 hours.

Many practices determined that registered nurses or licensed practical nurses were a financial burden to the bottom line of a physician’s practice.   In most cases, Medical assistants were perfectly capable of handling the mundane tasks as appointments, prescription refills and patient vital signs. 

But with the Medicare’s landscape changing, nurses could prove to be valuable and necessary again by

  • spending the necessary time with patients educating them on their diets and medications, and
  • relaying important information from home health nurses who need your medical intervention NOW, not four hours from now when the patient has gone back to the ED. 

If we are to weather Medicare’s newest cost saving measure it will be imperative that the primary care physician be easily accessible to avoid a patient returning to the ED.

Let’s face it-you don’t want to talk to each and every nurse that calls in a temperature of 99 degrees and a blood pressure of 165/80.  Having a nurse in your office with a solid clinical background that can prioritize information, contact patients and guide patient care at your direction could prove to be an invaluable tool to improving your patient outcomes. 

Medicare’s has requested new reimbursable codes for 2013 for a physician following-up on a patient for thirty days after he has left the hospital or a long-term care facility even if a home health agency is not involved.  Having a nurse could provide an invaluable link in providing care with our without home health agency involvement?

Tags: Compliance, Home Health,

Comments

Carol Crevier, RN MPH: We've had an RN in our office for 18 out of the 19 years we've run our Internal medicine/Peds practice. Our nurses are invaluable resources for our patients in managing their chronic illnesses and keeping them safe. We are so thankful they are in place as we gear up for the upcoming 'fun' as you put it! The Center for Primary Healthcare, Orland Park, Illinois

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