Learn about membership options orRegister for a non-member account
Log in / Register
Login / Register
Telemedicine and mHealth have the potential to help the healthcare system meet the Institute of Healthcare Improvement's triple aim of increasing the quality of care, improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of care.
"Collectively, investments in telemedicine and mHealth have great potential to reduce healthcare system costs," says Adam C. Powell, president of Payer+Provider Syndicate, a consulting firm that uses techniques from health service research to bring about change in the health insurance and hospital industries.
A 2011 study by Anna Sommers and Peter Cunningham released by the National Institute for Health Care Reform found that hospital readmissions within a month of discharge have cost more than $16 billion each year. Telemedicine can be used to reduce readmissions and other adverse events at a cost that is less than the cost of the problems themselves.
Powell outlines the five ways that telemedicine can play an important role in decreasing overall healthcare spending.
1. Use of remote analysis services. Remote analysis services, like telepathology and teleradiology, can contribute to lower cost and higher quality care as they enable highly trained professionals to work as a pooled resource. Use of these remote services enables low-volume providers to have around-the-clock coverage at a lower cost. In smaller facilities, there may not be sufficient volume to keep a pathologist or radiologist fully occupied. Telemedicine enables fractional employment.
2. Remote monitoring technologies. Remote monitoring technologies are enabling patients to be monitored on an ambulatory basis when they previously may have needed to be monitored as inpatients. Given the high cost of providing inpatient services, though, moving some forms of observation to an outpatient basis substantially reduces the costs borne by the healthcare system.
3. mHealth monitoring technologies. The use of mHealth monitoring technologies reduces the cost of complications due to chronic disease. For instance, an increase in body weight due to fluid retention is often a sign that someone may soon need to be hospitalized due to heart failure. Disease managers with access to daily weight information may be able to help a person experiencing fluid retention get the care they need before a crisis occurs. Averting crises both improves the quality of care and lowers costs.
4. At-home triage services. At home triage services facilitated by televisits with nurses and primary care physicians reduce the unnecessary (and expensive) use of emergency room visits.
5. Telemedicine appointments. By offering telemedicine appointments, providers can reduce the amount of their unused time that goes to waste. Many services allow providers to start or stop accepting patients based upon availability. As this capacity would otherwise not produce any revenue, providers are able to provide remote patient visits at a rate that is lower than the one they normally offer. This in turn reduces system costs by enabling patients to receive care at a lower price point.
More information about formatting options