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Study: Telemedicine treatment of pressure ulcers impacts costs but not outcomes

March 5, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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A 17-month study conducted in 12 long-term care facilities in Ontario, Canada, concluded that multi-discipliary teams using telemedicine were more cost-effective in treating pressure ulcers than those using standard treatment methods.

According to a press release, a key figure in this study was an advance practical nurse (APN) who visited each of the sites and educated the staff on pressure ulcer prevention and treatment, supported by an off-site, hospital-based multidisciplinary wound care team via email, telephone or video link as needed.

Participants in the study were 137 residents with a total of 259 pressure ulcers at stage 2 or greater.

After evaluating costs and clinical outcomes, the study authors concluded: "The economic evaluation demonstrated a mean reduction in direct care costs of $650 per resident compared to 'usual care.' The qualitative study suggested that onsite support by APN wound specialists was welcomed, and is responsible for reduced costs through discontinuation of expensive non-evidence based treatments."

However, the the use of telemedice-based teams did not seem to have a positive effect on pressure ulcer outcomes. "Enhanced multi-disciplinary wound care teams were cost effective, with most benefit through cost reduction initiated by APNs, but did not improve the treatment of pressure ulcers in nursing homes. Insufficient allocation of nursing home staff time to wound care may explain the lack of impact on healing," the authors concluded.