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Telemedicine can reduce hospitalizations for nursing home residents
Date:2/4/2014

LEBANON, NH (Feb. 4, 2014) Telemedicine used at nursing homes during hours when doctors are not typically present is a viable way to reduce avoidable hospitalizations, according to research published in February's issue of Health Affairs.

Hospitalizations of nursing home residents are occurring more frequently, and result in complications, morbidity and expensive Medicare costs. When a medical issue arises on nights and weekends that cannot be addressed by the on-call physician not present at the facility, the doctor can either travel to the nursing home or recommend that the resident be sent to the hospital emergency room. Very often, the physician recommends the hospital emergency room.

Researchers David C. Grabowski of Harvard Medical School and A. James O'Malley of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine designed a study to determine whether nursing home residents who receive off-hour physician coverage by telemedicine experience a lower rate of hospitalizations, thereby generating savings to Medicare in excess of the costs of the telemedicine program.

They studied a Massachusetts for-profit nursing home chain, which had signed a contract with a telemedicine provider to introduce service in 11 nursing homes to cover urgent or emergent calls on weeknights and weekends. The telemedicine service consisted of two-way video conferencing with a high-resolution camera, allowing nursing home residents to be examined remotely by a physician. For the period of October 2009 through September 2011, the nursing home chain staggered its telemedicine introduction. Six of the 11 nursing homes in the chain were randomized to initiate the telemedicine service while the five remaining nursing homes served as the control group.

The researchers found that four of the six treatment facilities were responsible for most of the telemedicine calls. Across all calls, the rate of hospi
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Contact: Annmarie Christensen
annmarie.Christensen@Dartmouth.edu
603-653-0897
The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Source:Eurekalert

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