Despite rapid medical advances in the healthcare system, access to many services in the long-term care setting continues to be difficult, especially in rural areas. Federal law requires that all nursing homes "provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident." However, demographic and economic trends are making it extremely difficult for nursing homes to meet this fundamental federal health standard. Most telemedicine projects launched in nursing homes to date have met with limited success due to the economic constraints of wiring each patient room or the logistical constraint of bringing all patients to a centralized telemedicine location.
The project will establish a wireless network to link three rural nursing home facilities in Michigan with a teaching nursing home facility. A video conferencing solution will be installed in PC Tablets that can easily be brought from bedside to bedside. Services to be provided via this wireless, mobile solution include:
(1) Clinical consults from the teaching nursing home to the three rural nursing homes;
(2) Clinical consults for patients from Michigan State University-based physicians for any subspecialities not available through the teaching nursing home; and
(3) Training services from faculty at the teaching nursing home to medical and nursing students located at the three rural nursing homes.
Project partners include Masonic Pathways Teaching Nursing Home, Au Sable Valley Nursing Home, Marwood Manor Nursing, and Tendercare Nursing Home. Project goals are to (1) find cost effective ways to maximize access to clinical services for nursing home residents through a wireless, mobile solution, (2) increase the quality of care through the enhanced access, and (3) improve medical outcomes for these nursing home residents.