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– The purpose of this paper is to observe and analyse the effects of the use of telemedicine in care homes on the use of acute hospital resources.
The purpose of this paper is to observe and analyse the effects of the use of telemedicine in care homes on the use of acute hospital resources.
The study was an uncontrolled retrospective observational review of data on emergency hospital admissions and Emergency Department (ED) visits for care home residents in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven. Acute hospital activity for residents was observed before and after the installation of telemedicine in 27 care homes. Data from a further 21 care homes that did not use telemedicine were used as a control group, using the median date of telemedicine installation for the “before and after” period. Patient outcomes were not considered.
Care homes with telemedicine showed a 39 per cent reduction in the costs of emergency admissions and a 45 per cent reduction in ED attendances after telemedicine installation. In the control group reductions were 31 and 31 per cent, respectively. The incremental difference in costs between the two groups of care homes was almost £1.2 million. The cost of telemedicine to care commissioners was £177,000, giving a return on investment over a 20-month period of £6.74 per £1 spent.
The results should be interpreted carefully. There is inherent bias as telemedicine was deployed in care homes with the highest use of acute hospital resources and there were some methodological limitations due to poor data. Nevertheless, controlling the data as much as possible and adopting a cautious approach to interpretation, it can be concluded that the use of telemedicine in these care homes was cost-effective.
There are very few telemedicine studies focused on care homes.