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Patients with chronic illness benefit from telehealth intervention
Date:5/7/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. Telehealth, using telecommunication technology to deliver health care, is increasingly being used to improve the delivery and availability of health care services to patients. A University of Missouri researcher found that patients who received a telehealth intervention from care providers had significantly delayed hospital readmission rates when compared to patients who received traditional care.

Telehealth interventions have the potential to allow for earlier detection of key clinical symptoms, triggering early intervention from providers and reducing the need for patient hospitalization, said Bonnie Wakefield, professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. Reducing the length and frequency of hospital stays can lower healthcare costs for patients and hospitals, which helps patients manage their diseases and ultimately feel better.

To understand how the use of technology affects patient-provider interactions, Wakefield evaluated the effectiveness of a telehealth home-based intervention in patients with heart failure. Patients were selected randomly to receive follow-up by telephone or videophone after hospitalization for heart failure. According to Wakefield, previous research on traditional clinic visits found that quality patient-provider relationships can improve patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, clinical outcomes and understanding of information.

Telehealth does not necessarily change the care providers give. Rather, it changes the communication channel between clinicians and patients to minimize geographic barriers and enhance delivery of service, Wakefield said. According to patients, it is not important how the interaction happens, but just that it happens. People who suffer from chronic illnesses usually wait three to six months between office appointments with their care providers. With video and telephone technology, nurses have the ability to interact regularly with patients and provide a sense
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Contact: Emily Smith
SmithEA@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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