Study: Telemedicine in Nursing Homes Cuts Hospitalizations, Costs

March 5, 2014 in News

Nursing homes that offer after-hours telemedicine services to their residents significantly reduce hospitalization rates, which could save Medicare hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

The study was sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund and conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School.

The researchers examined 11 Massachusetts nursing homes, six of which introduced after-hours telemedicine services between October 2009 and September 2011.

The study found that hospitalizations declined 9.7% among facilities that adopted telemedicine services, compared with a decline of 5.3% at the facilities that did not adopt telemedicine.

Researchers said that Medicare could save about $151,000 annually per nursing home if all facilities adopted telemedicine services. Implementing the telemedicine services would cost about $30,000 per facility, according to the study.

The study authors said lawmakers and others should take steps to “consider reforms that would better align the costs of telemedicine with the potential savings from reduced hospitalizations” (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 3/4).

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