Behavioral health remote monitoring cuts hospital admissions

Patient engagement through a remote behavioral health intervention following a cardio vascular event has the ability to reduce hospital admissions and length of hospital stays, a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care found.

Researchers from telemedicine provider AbilTo and Aetna conducted the study. Over a period of eight weeks, 201 patients were involved in the intervention program, which consisted of cognitive behavioral therapy through telephone calls and secure video with a behavioral health specialist. About 180 patients were used as a comparison group and did not receive intervention.

The researchers tracked hospital admissions and total hospital days in the six months following the first consultation. Severity of depression and anxiety also was evaluated, according to the study's authors.

They found that participants in the intervention group had lower levels of depression and anxiety, as well as 38 percent fewer total hospital admissions. In addition, more individuals in the comparison group (7.2 percent) had multiple admissions compared to the intervention group (3.5 percent).

These types of interventions are growing in the health industry as consumers increasingly are willing to receive care through telemedicine.

In a recent survey by Software Advice, 75 percent of patients who have not used telemedicine are at least "moderately interested" in remote care.

In addition, a majority of consumers surveyed by Harris Poll on behalf of telehealth company American Well said they are willing to consider a video chat with their doctor instead of an in-person visit.

In addition to improved patient care, the authors said the intervention program also helped to save costs.

"[F]ocused targeting of patients with high-risk clinical conditions, coupled with highly successful engagement strategies, can lead not only to meaningful behavioral health improvements, but also to improved medical outcomes and lower healthcare expenditures," the authors concluded.

In fact, using telemedicine may save patients about $100 or more compared to the estimated cost for in-person care, according to research published last December.

To learn more:
- check out the study