News Feature | February 12, 2015

Study Finds Telemonitoring Savings ‘Insignificant'

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

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According to a report published by Telemedicine and e-Health, researchers found no cost savings as a result of telemonitoring use in the care of older adults.

Telehealth seems like the perfect solution for aging adults with chronic conditions, a population often in need of more frequent care than others. However, a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and Purdue University has found the cost savings of such care to be “insignificant.”

According to iHealth Beat, researchers in the year-long study compared the cost of telemedicine to the costs of home healthcare, office visits, and phone services. Members of the telemedicine group were given the equipment for communication, plus vital-sign-measurement equipment such as weight scale, blood pressure, cuff, glucometer, and pulse oximeter, reports Fierce Health IT.

Surprisingly, “We found no significant difference in mean estimated total costs and the three main cost components between the two treatment groups,” wrote researchers. “Among high-risk and seriously ill elderly patients, the estimated inpatient, outpatient, ED, and total costs between our TELE and UC groups were not statistically different.”

While the cost savings were insignificant, researchers do point out that, “When compared with the prior year, there is a trend toward a positive difference in total cost for the TELE group.”

They conclude, “Early detection of health issues by primary care providers through home telemonitoring may lead to a more predictable average of annual hospital days and possibly the length of stay; however, this would require a larger study with greater numbers of patients.”

Researchers suggest future studies should focus on identifying the right subset of high-risk patients that would most benefit from telemonitoring services in order to reduce readmissions.