Telemedicine beneficial in management of chronic diseases, lowering costs

There are many uses for telemedicine to manage chronic diseases, and no matter the process, the technology offers beneficial results and costs reductions, according to a recent study.

The study, published online in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health, looks at the impact telemedicine has on cost, quality and access to care, focusing three chronic diseases: congestive heart failure, stroke and obstructive pulmonary disease.

The authors, which include former American Telemedicine Association President Rashid Bashshur (pictured)--executive director of eHealth at the University of Michigan Health System--found that for each chronic disease, a different telehealth approach was needed.

  • Congestive heart failure: Long-term telemonitoring support is the most efficient and effective model for disease management
  • Stroke: Telestroke has the most impact--prompt interventions aimed at optimal treatment. According to a 10-year evaluation, telestroke units helped increase the number of rural patients treated and deliver treatment faster over 10 years
  • CPOD: Telepulmonology is the best treatment, using remote measurement of lung function through telespirometry and teleconsultations between care providers, pulmonary specialists

Because of the different types of telemedicine used for each chronic disease, the study's authors said a "homogeneous telemedicine landscape now or in the future is beyond reasonable expectation."  

However, the authors said telemedicine shows many benefits in the care of chronic diseases. There were reductions in services, with re-admissions and length of hospital stay declining, and "there often were reductions in mortality," they said.

The use of telemedicine also allows patients to be more engaged in managing their own health, according to the authors.

To that end, most patients are embracing the use of video appointments and care through telemedicine, according to a recent study also published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

In addition, costs are also reduced because of avoidance of unnecessary services, the authors said. Recent analysis from Towers Watson found telemedicine could save U.S. companies hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in costs.

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

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