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

talizations declined 5.3 percent for the control group and 9.7 percent for the treatment group. This effect was largely concentrated in the four "more engaged" nursing homes, whose rate of hospitalization declined 11.3 percent.

"We did not observe a statistically significant effect of the telemedicine intervention on hospitalizations," the researchers wrote. However, when they compared the four more-engaged nursing homes with the two less-engaged ones, they found a significant decline in the hospitalization rate at the more engaged facilities. A secondary finding of the analysis is that the hospitalization rate for non-engaged intervention facilities was very close to that of the control facilities. Despite not being part of the original randomized comparison, this nonetheless strengthened the results of the engaged vs. non-engaged comparison on intuitive grounds (if homes ignore the intervention, they appear to function just like homes never exposed to the intervention).

"According to these estimates, a nursing home that typically had 180 hospitalizations per year and that was more engaged with telemedicine could expect to see a statistically significant reduction of about 15.1 hospitalizations per year" than a facility that was less engaged, the researchers said. The average Medicare savings would be roughly $150,000 per nursing home per year.

The annual cost of the telemedicine service in this study was $30,000 per nursing home, implying a net savings of roughly $120,000 per nursing home per year in the more engaged facilities, the researchers said.

The researchers say engagement is the key to the use of telemedicine preventing hospitalizations. Simply making it available does not guarantee its use by nursing home staff. Telemedicine providers and nursing home leaders will have to take additional steps to encourage buy-in among nursing home administrators, front-line staff members, and physicians.

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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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