Virtual visits: Cutting healthcare costs

December 31, 2014 in Medical Technology

An Alliance for Connected Care study, released in December, estimates that virtual visits could save an average of $126 per visit. Researchers found on average, telehealth visits cost between $40 and $50; compared to an average estimated cost of $136 to $176 for an in-office visit.  

They also found that 83% of health conditions were resolved after a virtual visit.  Of the remainder (patients whose conditions did not resolve), 10% went to an emergency department and about 50% had an in-office visit.  In addition, patients who were seen via telehealth reported that if the virtual visit was not available 5.6% would have sought treatment in an emergency department. Additionally:

  • 45.8% would have gone to an urgent care facility
  • 30.9% would have gone to a physician’s office
  • 12% would have done nothing

Taking a couple of steps beyond telehealth, another report, focusing on the needs of current and future caregivers, expressed an interest in supports, such as:

  • Electronic pill boxes;
  • Electronic sensors;
  • Home monitoring security systems;
  • Online care coordination tools; and
  • Webcams for two-way communications and for home monitoring

Thus the future of healthcare will align a bit closer to the daily life we saw depicted in The Jetsons cartoons of our childhoods. It will be virtual for both professional and family caregivers.

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