Telemedicine Can Increase Health Care Efficiency, Cut Costs

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday examined how the “burgeoning” field of telemedicine has “spurred a growing interest in home-health strategies that can help curb costs by minimizing office visits and hospitalizations — and may lead to better patient outcomes.” According to the Post-Dispatch, “telemonitoring and telehealth services” are “[h]eralded as both time and money savers,” and are “gaining a foothold in the increasingly costly health care market” as a way to “treat a wide array of patients, from those suffering from congestive heart failure and diabetes to mental health patients and complex maternity cases.”

More than 200,000 U.S. residents use telemedicine home-monitoring services, according to American Telemedicine Association estimates. Recent studies suggest telemedicine can reduce costs from office visits and hospitalizations by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Carol Bickford, a senior policy fellow in the department of nursing practice and policy at the American Nursing Association, said, “It’s getting a lot of attention now in mainstream health care to help cut down on costs,” adding, “It’s been very successful when it’s done well in reducing the hospitalization of patients, because you can reach something early.”

According to the Post-Dispatch, some people can be “overwhelmed by the technology,” and “questions remain among some health care providers about who will be paid for which services” (Birk, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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