Can Telemedicine Keep Nursing Home Residents Out of the Hospital While Saving Medicare Money?

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<p>Nursing home residents in need of medical care after regular hours or on weekends are often sent to the hospital, where they face a great risk of serious health complications. These hospitalizations also cost Medicare more than a billion dollars a year.</p><p>Results from a new <a href="/publications/journal-article/2014/feb/use-telemedicine-can-reduce-hospitalizations-nursing-home">Commonwealth Fund–supported study</a> in<em> Health Affairs</em> led by Harvard Medical School's David C. Grabowski confirm that telemedicine can be a cost-effective alternative to a trip to the hospital. Nursing homes that were more engaged with the technology, which allows patients to visit with physicians virtually by way of two-way video or other telecommunications, significantly reduced their hospitalization rates compared with other facilities. The authors estimate that the lower hospitalization rate achieved by the intervention group would translate into average Medicare savings of $150,000 per nursing home per year.</p>
<p>But given that the savings largely accrue to Medicare and not to the nursing homes themselves, it will be necessary to create a business case for homes and other providers to invest in this service, the authors note.</p>
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