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Telemedicine in nursing homes cuts hospitalizations

October 29, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The use of telemedicine in nursing homes that do not have an on-site or on-call physician can reduce the number of hospitalizations and save unnecessary costs, according to a recent study.

The study, the results of which were published in Health Affairs, used a control group of 11 nursing homes that had switched from on-call to telemedicine physician coverage during off hours.

Researchers found that in these cases fewer unnecessary hospitalizations and a greater savings in Medicare costs occurred, even after the cost of setting up the telemedicine service was considered. Nursing homes that used telemedicine services more frequently during off hours had greater savings than those that did not, the study showed.

But the researchers also noted a disconnect between the IT investments and the benefits, concluding: "a closer alignment of the stakeholders that bear the costs of telemedicine and those that might realize savings because of its use could offer further incentives for the adoption of telemedicine."