Healthcare News & Insights

Telehealth studies find lower readmission rates, fast ROI for hospitals

As the federal government and many states are adopting programs to promote the use of telehealth technology, new studies are showing the benefits telehealth can have for healthcare organizations, as well as patients in rural areas. 

Telehealth systems can help hospitals cut their readmission rates, increase revenue and boost efficiency, according to two recent case studies of hospitals in Pennsylvania.

Saint Vincent Health System, which operates 26 facilities in the state, has been using a telehealth network built with video technology from Polycom to connect doctors to patients in rural areas. In addition to using video to connect doctors and patients visually, Saint Vincent is also using other remote monitoring tools — for example, Bluetooth electronic stethoscopes that let doctors hear lung and heart sounds from hundreds of miles away.

And the system has paid for itself quickly. Saint Vincent and Polycom announced the health system realized a 100% return on investment within two months by expanding the reach of the services provided and treating more patients they other would not have been able to access.

Another organization, Geisinger Health Plan in Danville, PA, found positive results after beginning a telehealth program.

Geisinger used telehealth technology from AMC health, including an interactive voice response system that allows discharged patients to report information about their symptoms to be collected for doctors on a regular basis. The telehealth system is used to monitor approximately 1,000 heart failure patients at any given time.

To measure the effectiveness of the telehealth program, Geisinger looked at how results for monitored patients compared to those of patients who had no remote monitoring over a two-year period. The result: For patients in the telehealth program, 30-day readmissions were reduced by 44% compared to other patients.

Patients’ case managers also reported good results, with 96% saying the telehealth technologies allowed them to monitor patients more efficiently.

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