Telehealth lowers spending on chronically ill by 13%

If you're looking for ROI on your telehealth program, look no further than your chronically ill patient population. A new study published in the journal Health Affairs found that telehealth intervention, in place of traditional clinic-based care, results in spending reductions of 8 to 13 percent per patient, per quarter, on average.

The patients, battling heart failure, COPD and diabetes, were offered a Health Buddy telehealth device to use in their homes, the study explains. Patients recorded vital signs such as weight, blood pressure and other metrics, and answered questions about their health habits in the home. The data was uploaded to a web-based system that analyzed the responses, and alerted clinicians if the findings were outside of normal parameters, according to CardiovascularBusiness.

"We compared spending in the intervention group before and after patients were offered the program, and we compared those findings to changes observed in the control group over the same time period," the study's authors wrote. "After the program became available, intervention-group spending fell, while control-group spending remained relatively stable."

In fact, the costs fell, depending upon the patient, to a range of $312 to $542 per quarter, the study shows. In one interesting finding, costs for heart failure patient fell the most, while diabetes patients' costs fell the least.

The study's authors even went so far as to extrapolate their findings to support reform of Medicare and other government regulations for telehealth.

"The results from this project appear to suggest avenues by which Medicare could improve healthcare delivery and efficiency in the treatment of chronic disease," the authors stated.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs study (registration required)
- check out CardiovascularBusiness commentary

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