Telemedicine beats the emergency room

Several years ago, while seeking to establish the ROI for RelayHealth, we found that users of RelayHealth had lower spending for emergency department visits than the control group. The explanation was reasonably straightforward: better, more timely access to physicians obviated the need to show up at the emergency room with its attendant costs, inconvenience and dangers.

Now a study from the University of Rochester has shown something similar. More than 25 percent of pediatric ED visits could be avoided through telemedicine. Researchers found that many ED visits were for non-emergency issues like sore throats and ear infections. That’s no particular surprise to anyone, I don’t think.

The group in the study with access to telemedicine did access care 23 percent more than the control group, but overall costs were much lower because ED visits were 24 percent less frequent. Cost savings translate into about $14 per year, enough to buy a pretty decent dinner in Rochester.

As technology improves –with better communications and remote monitoring technology– I expect such benefits to grow.

May 12, 2008

One thought on “Telemedicine beats the emergency room”

  1. Telemedicine offers access to a variety of specialists especially as physician shortages grow. There are two challenges: Physician acceptance of new technology and reimbursement.
    Hospitals are often “eating the cost” of the telemedicine service as payers often do not reimburse.

    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

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