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More Study Needed to Prove Telehealth's Worth

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, April 12, 2011

Clinicians, including rapid response teams, use the technology to evaluate patients and intervene in a timely manner wherever they are. About 75% of patients treated remotely are transferred to the ICU; doing so early is a best practice that lowers mortality rates among high-risk patients, Kathleen Webster, MD, director for pediatric critical care and the medical director for the pediatric ICU, told HealthLeaders Media.

"We went an entire year with no deaths in that group—and that's as low as I can go with the numbers," Webster says. "That tells us that we're doing a good job of seeing these patients early."

No doubt that zero is an impressive number. But as the field of telemedicine continues to emerge, so must research into its clinical effectiveness.

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4 comments on "More Study Needed to Prove Telehealth's Worth"


Debby Randall (4/13/2011 at 4:37 PM)
And I would add: if the patient's choice is for telehealth[over no care or delayed care] and it is a quality equivalent, there is no compelling reason that it has to be "superior" to the traditional method. So far, avoided hospitalizations and ER visits meet patient preferences and reduce costs, too. Deborah Randall JD

Jeff Johnson (4/13/2011 at 11:37 AM)
I find it interesting that the content of the article and evidence presented appear to support the use of telemedicine as an equally effective alternative but the title line and the last comment in the article do not.

Michael W Hurst (4/13/2011 at 10:32 AM)
Agree entirely with Ken Maddock that the standard does not need to be "better than", "equal" is entirely fine. And if one uses cost-effectiveness as well as clinical effectiveness, the comparison may weigh entirely in telemedicine's favor. The challenge is that hospitals and clinics are not necessarily the billable source of this care. For many patients in many circumstances, however, not having to travel with all its attendant costs is a major reduction in the barrier to receiving care in a timely fashion.