Telemedicine helps veterans manage chronic conditions

As the veteran population in the U.S. grows older and sicker, the use of telemedicine is helping those with chronic conditions manage their care from home, according to a case study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

In the study, researchers from the Veterans Health Administration assessed data from the outcomes of about 5,000 veterans receiving care coordination home telehealth (CCHT) compared to non-CCHT care of about 183,800 vets.

Evaluations of the CCHT program, according to the researchers, showed improved health-related quality of life, which included 50 percent fewer hospitalizations, 11 percent fewer ER visits and hospital lengths of stay shortened by three days.

Telemedicine has also shown to help veterans in more ways than to manage chronic conditions. The tools are also proving to be an effective means for providing psychotherapy care to veterans in rural areas suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to research published in JAMA Psychiatry. That study found that PTSD severity had subsided for patients in the telemedicine program.

The researchers conducting the VHA study said the promise of healthcare technology in improving care must go beyond looking at the technology and be placed in "the context of a care model that coordinates care to improve population healthcare."

For the VHA, the use of home telehealth had the desired outcomes, the researchers said.

"VHA's routine use of HT has been successful in coordinating the care and more efficiently managing patients with complex chronic conditions--ones whom healthcare systems delivering services to rapidly aging populations with multiple comorbidities are challenged to serve," they said.

Last year alone, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it provided remote care to more than 690,000 veterans.

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

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