Study: Telehealth can save $100 or more per visit

As telehealth services grow throughout the country, they provide both improved care and ways to cut costs.

The average estimated cost of a telehealth visit saves about $100 or more compared to the estimated cost for in-person care, according to a study by Dale H. Yamamoto of Red Quill Consulting, Inc.

The average telehealth visit ranges from $40-$50, while in-person care can cost as much as $176, the study says.

The most common illness that patients sought care for through telemedicine was sinusitis, with 20 percent diagnosed with that illness, and cold/flu/pertussis the next most common at 12 percent. In addition, providers were able to resolve a patient's issues 83 percent of the time. Sixty percent of the visits were resolved with prescriptions. 

While telemedicine has shown promise for patients throughout the country, and especially those living in rural areas, reimbursement for the services remains sparse, FierceHealthIT has previously reported. In fact, nearly 30 states in the U.S. don't allow reimbursement for telemedicine, according to a recent USA Today report.

Lifting restrictions on payment for telehealth in the Medicare fee-for-service program will result in cost savings, according to Yamamoto. "For the commercial market, the savings are approximately 70 percent of the average cost of care that the patient would have used in the other settings," he writes.

In addition, executives in the healthcare industry continue to embrace telemedicine services, making them more ubiquitous and the need for reimbursement more necessary than ever. 

To learn more:
- check out the study (.pdf)