Telemedicine reducing hospital readmissions

Hospitals have been using telemedicine to treat patients in a quick, easy and cost-effective manner. There have been many changes to the healthcare system since facilities began implementing technology such as visual conferencing, and the majority have been positive. Physicians are frequently recognizing the potential that telemedicine has for all parties involved.

The National Institute for Health Care Reform released a study in 2011 that revealed hospital readmissions within one month of initial treatment cost facilities $16 billion annually, according to Healthcare IT News. Telemedicine has not only reduced readmissions over the years, but the follow-up treatment given to telemedicine patients costs less for the patients and has reduced overall spending in hospitals.

A monitoring program that a Pennsylvania-based health provider recently adopted is estimated to have reduced hospital readmissions by 44 percent, according to mHIMSS, a not-for-profit organization exclusively focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of information technology and management systems for the betterment of healthcare.

Joann Sciandra, director of case management and strategic planning with the care provider, said that the first week or two after discharge is when readmissions are prominent. She added that the telemedicine monitoring system allows patients to get proper treatment while enabling the doctors and case managers to have more communication with patients in this period right after discharge.

In addition, telehealth systems have allowed for professionals to handle each treatment on a case-by-case manner.

“We really wanted to do something around transitions in care. It wasn’t a question of people doing a bad job, they weren’t,” Sciandra said. “But it is the system that sets us up for failure. By having someone to hand off the patient to for outpatient (management) we are able to prevent some of those problems we had in the past.”

Adam C. Powell, preisdent of Payer+Provider Syndicate, a consulting firm, told Healthcare IT News that there are several ways telemedicine can be successful in reducing cost. One of the ways telemedicine can benefit the health industry is that patients are now able to be monitored and treated remotely, whereas before they would have most likely been admitted as inpatients, which cost much more than being treated on an ambulatory basis.