Despite the significant financial costs of telehealth and telemedicine services, where technologies such as videoconferencing for remote diagnostics are deployed, adopters report impressive gains in medication adherence and care of remote and rural patients, as well as a decrease in health complications, according to new market data from the Healthcare Intelligence Network’s 2013 Telehealth and Telemedicine survey.
Take, for example, the numerous initiatives in the area of remote monitoring, the top clinical telehealth application reported by this year’s respondents. Fifty-seven percent monitor patients or members remotely; fully 100 percent of those employing this technology track vital signs and weight in monitored individuals, two critical red flags in treatment of individuals with chronic illness.
Active users of telehealth and telemedicine also experience fewer hospitalizations, hospital readmissions, emergency room visits and bed days, respondents reported.
More studies are needed to tie telehealth and telemedicine interventions to these metrics, as researchers at UC Davis Children’s Hospital did recently. They found that telemedicine consultations with pediatric critical-care medicine physicians significantly improved the quality of care for seriously ill and injured children treated in remote rural ERs, where pediatricians and pediatric specialists are scarce.
The study also found that rural ER physicians are more likely to adjust their pediatric patients’ diagnoses and course of treatment after a live, interactive videoconference with a specialist. Parents’ satisfaction and perception of the quality of their child’s care also are significantly improved when consultations are provided using telemedicine, rather than telephone, and aid ER treatment, the study found.
In a related development, UC Davis researchers have been awarded a $2.5 million grant to study telepsychiatry by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine provides actionable new information from more than 125 healthcare organizations on their utilization of telehealth & telemedicine, and documents trends and metrics on current and planned telehealth and telemedicine initiatives, including a year-over-year comparison of telehealth trends from 2009 to present.