Sunday, January 11, 2009

Telehealth Improves Home Care

Veterans with chronic conditions can manage their health and avoid hospitalization by using special technology provided by the VA in their homes according to a study published in the Journal “Telemedicine and e-Health”.

The study authored by VA national telehealth staff members, looked at health outcomes from 17,025 VA home telehealth patients. The results show that when home telehealth was used, there was a 25% reduction in the average number of days hospitalized and a 19% reduction in the number of hospitalizations for patients. The data also shows that for some patients, the cost of telehealth services in their homes averaged $1,600 a year which is lower than in-home clinician care costs.

Dr. Adam Darkins, Chief Consultant in VA’s care coordination program, who led the study, said “VA’s home telehealth program cares for 35,000 patients and is the largest of its kind in the world. Clinicians and managers in healthcare systems, as well as information technology professionals, have been awaiting the result of the telehealth study. The results are not really about the technology, but about how using it helps coordinate the full scope of care our patients need.”

According to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. James B. Peake, “a real plus is that this approach to care can be sustained because it is so cost effective and more veteran-centric. Patients in rural areas are increasingly finding that telehealth improves their access to healthcare and promotes their ongoing relationship with our healthcare system.”