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Study shows telehealth improves access
17,000 VA patients' data analyzed
The Veterans' Administration (VA) was able to reduce the number of bed days of care by 25% and reduce the number of hospital admissions by 19% with a national home telehealth program implemented in 2003. 1
The program, Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT) increased enrollment from 2,000 patients in 2003 to 31,570 patients in 2007. Analysis of the data obtained for quality and performance purposes was performed for more than 17,000 patients as part of a study to evaluate the program's effectiveness. The data also show that for some patients, the cost of telehealth services in their homes averaged $1,600 a year much lower than in-home clinician care costs.
In addition to reducing hospitalizations and lengths of stay, the program showed a mean patient satisfaction score rating of 86%.
CCHT was developed to better coordinate care and manage care of patients with chronic conditions. "The study showed that home telehealth makes health care more effective, because it improves patients' access to care and is easy to use," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake . "A real plus is that this approach to care can be sustained, because it's so cost-effective and more veteran-centric. Patients in rural areas are increasingly finding that telehealth improves their access to health care and promotes their ongoing relationship with our health care system."
VA's Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Michael J. Kussman , said the key to the program's success is VA's computerized patient record system. "Data obtained from the home such as blood pressure and blood glucose, along with other patient information in the electronic system, allows our health care teams to anticipate and prevent avoidable problems," he said.
VA health care officials emphasize that home telehealth does not necessarily replace nursing home care or traditional care but can help veterans understand and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic heart failure. Patients' partnerships with the medical team can delay the need for institutional care and maintain independence for an extended time.
1. Darkins A, Ryan P, Kobb R, et al. "Care Coordination/Home Telehealth: The Systematic Implementation of Health Informatics, Home Telehealth, and Disease Management to Support the Care of Veteran Patients with Chronic Conditions." Telemedicine and e-Health December 2008, 14(10): 1118-1126.