Remote Behavioral Health Program Cut Hospital Admissions, Costs

March 6, 2015 in News

A remote behavioral health program helped to cut the number of cardiac patients who were readmitted to the hospital by nearly 33%, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, mHealth Intelligence reports (Bresnick, mHealth Intelligence, 3/5).

Study Details

The study was conducted by researchers from:

  • AbilTo, a telemedicine provider;
  • Aetna; and
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 3/6).

The researchers recruited nearly 400 cardiac patients to participate in the study, and 201 of the participants took part in an eight-week intervention program targeting behavioral health. The program focused on cardiac patients who required additional psychological support to deal with their conditions. The program consisted of 16 phone or video sessions. Providers and licensed social workers during the sessions evaluated patients’ progress and mental health (mHealth Intelligence, 3/5). The researchers then tracked hospital admissions and total hospital days in the six months following the first consultation and compared them with a control group of about 180 patients (FierceHealthIT, 3/6).

Study Findings

The study found that individuals who participated in the program scored lower on standardized tests for anxiety, depression and stress than those who did not use the program.

In addition, the study found that the program bolstered patient engagement. Specifically, the study found that during the six month follow-up period patients who participated in the program had:

  • 38% fewer hospital admissions; and
  • 31% fewer readmissions.

Further, the study found that individuals who participated in the program were less likely to be admitted to a hospital more than one time and spent 63% fewer days in inpatient hospital care during the six-month follow-up period.

According to the study, reducing the amount of time patients spent in the hospital also helped to reduce costs. Overall, the study found that the savings offset the program’s costs within six months (mHealth Intelligence, 3/5).

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