Study: Telehealth systems provide significant cost-savings

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A national rollout of telehealth systems in emergency departments, correctional institutions, nursing homes and physician offices could save the United States $4.28 billion a year, according to a new study from the Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL). 

The CITL study was conducted at Partners HealthCare System of Boston.

The study looked at three types of systems--store-and-forward, real-time video and a hybrid combination--that use telemedicine technology to make clinicians remotely available to patients. CITL found that benefits far outweighed costs for all three systems, but recommends the hybrid system as the best investment.

As a result of the study, CITL said it projects the hybrid model to be the most cost-effective system of the three technologies. By reducing face-to-face visits and redundant and unnecessary tests alone, CITL said the “hybrid system can save $3.61 billion annually. In addition, of the 142 million referral visits in the United States each year, a reduction in patient travel from mileage costs alone could save $912 million. Nationally implemented hybrid systems could save $4.28 billion annually.”

The report, “The Value of Provider-to-Provider Telehealth Technologies,” was funded through the support of The O’Donnell Foundation, The AT &T Foundation, The Harris & Eliza Kempner Fund and The AT &T Center for Telehealth Research and Policy at the University of Texas Medical Branch.