Study: Pediatric Telehealth Programs Can Reduce Rural ED Costs

May 26, 2015 in News

Implementing a pediatric telehealth program could help rural emergency departments cut costs, according to a new study published in the journal Medical Decision Making, FierceHealthIT reports.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers at the University of California-Davis Children’s Hospital sought to analyze the costs of starting and maintaining a telehealth program at rural EDs.

The researchers compared such costs with records from eight EDs between 2003 and 2009, with a focus on conditions that can be treated at rural facilities under adequate guidance, including:

  • Asthma;
  • Bronchiolitis;
  • Dehydration;
  • Fever; and
  • Pneumonia.

Findings

According to the study, the costs associated with telehealth programs at rural EDs included investments in:

  • Equipment;
  • IT support;
  • Software; and
  • Subspecialist assistance fees.

The researchers pegged the cost of pediatric telehealth programs at $3,641 per child annually.

However, such programs helped achieve 31% fewer patient transfers and cost reductions of $4,662 per child annually.

As a result, the hospitals saw a $1.96 return on investment for every dollar spent on telehealth (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 5/22).

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