Telemedicine use at senior living communities reduces ED visits

Providers, payers and other organizations should consider teaming up with senior living communities (SLC) on telemedicine to reduce visits to the emergency department.

Patients living at communities that are more engaged with technology and telemedicine see a decrease in ED use, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

The researchers, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, examined a total of 1,219 seniors. Of those, 479 received telemedicine care, while 740 did not.

They also studied facilities' engagement levels when it came to telemedicine use. The researchers found that communities that used the technology more saw a higher number of patients participating in telemedicine visits--45.8 percent compared to 8.9 percent at less engaged facilities.

"This study demonstrates that subjects residing in more engaged SLC units experienced greater decrease in ED use from participation in Health-e-Access compared with subjects who reside in less engaged SLCs," the study's authors said.

They added that while it is not too surprising that facilities that are more engaged with telemedicine have patients who use it more, their research highlights that engagement needs to be addressed "thoughtfully and thoroughly in order to achieve" its potential.

Telemedicine continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and settings in which the technology is used are also shifting.

Telemedicine also can be a useful tool for older patients who suffer from depression. The technology is helpful, especially to veterans who may not be able to receive in-person psychotherapy due to geographic isolation, stigma and mobility, according to the research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract