Telemonitoring, which has been discussed with increased frequency as an option to reduce patient rehospitalizations, doesn’t work as intended for older patients, according to the results of a recent study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic and Purdue University, found telemonitoring had little effect on people age 60 years and older in significantly reducing readmissions or emergency department visits.
Preventing hospital readmissions and emergency department visits is an important focus of the Affordable Care Act that will affect Medicare payments for services beginning in 2013.
In the controlled study, people over 60 years of age and at high risk for rehospitalization were broken into two groups. One group used telemonitoring to follow each individual’s health status with daily input (symptom reporting, biometrics and videoconferencing), while the other group experienced routine care.
At the study's end, the telemonitored group did not significantly reduce its hospitalization or ED visits as compared with the group that received usual care. The mortality rate for the telemonitored group (14.7 percent) however, was higher than the usual care group (3.9 percent). The reasons for this discrepancy are unknown.
While this study did not show a significant benefit in reducing ED visits and hospital readmissions, other studies have concluded otherwise, such as the Geisinger Health Plan investigation that found success with patients using the technology. However, that study was not limited to older adults.