Mainstream hospitals and healthcares have turned to telemedicine to increase access and allocate resources more effectively, according to an article in Health Affairs.
The article details five provider organizations that have used telemedicine to provide effective care while keeping costs down:
1. Through a program at Boston-based Partners Healthcare, more than 3,000 congestive heart failure patients used at-home monitoring devices to send updates of their weight, blood pressure and other metrics to Partners. Clinical decision support software then helped identify the patients that needed interventions. The program allowed a panel of three or four nurses to provide care for 250 patients, and ultimately reduced readmissions among the participating patient population by 44 percent while generating cost savings of more than $10 million.
2. A four-year program run by the Veterans Health Administration combined remote patient monitoring, health informatics and disease management technology to improve care for patients with six chronic conditions ranging from depression to diabetes. In addition to high patient satisfaction scores, the program also achieved a 25 percent drop in bed-days of care and a 19 percent reduction in hospital admissions as compared to traditional care.
3. Kaiser Permanente dermatologists in San Diego are able to treat more patients by reviewing images and patient information uploaded and sent to them over a secure server by referring physicians, rather than seeing every patient in person. The practice's physicians now handle 800 cases per month, 50 percent more than if they relied on face-to-face visits.
4. About 13 percent of all intensive care unit beds in the country are supported by tele-ICU technology. At the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, having trained intensivists provide ICU care remotely resulted in a 20 percent decrease in mortality, a 30 percent drop in lengths of stay and reductions in care costs.
5. Telemedicine can also help patients adhere to their medication regimes. A randomized trial at the Center for Connected Health, part of Partners Healthcare, showed the use of a wireless pill bottle that reminded patients to take their blood pressure medication increased adherence by 68 percent.