Economic cost of home-telemonitoring care for BiPAP-assisted ALS individuals.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2012 Oct;13(6):533-7. doi: 10.3109/17482968.2012.703675. Lopes de Almeida JP, Pinto A, Pinto S, Ohana B, de Carvalho M. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Santa Maria Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal.

Our objective was to measure direct (hospital and NHS) and indirect (patient/caregiver) costs of following up in-home compliance to non-invasive ventilation via wireless modem. We constructed a prospective controlled trial of 40 consecutive ALS home-ventilated patients, randomly assigned according to their residence area to G1 (nearby hospital, office-based follow-up) and G2 (outside hospital area, telemetry device-based follow-up). Total NHS direct cost encompassed costs related to outpatients' visits (office and emergency room) and hospitalizations. Hospital direct costs included transportation to/from hospital, office visit per hour cost and equipment maintenance. Non-medical costs considered days of wages lost due to absenteeism. G1 included 20 patients aged 60 ± 10 years and G2 included 19 patients aged 62 ± 13 years. Results showed that no differences were found regarding clinical/demographic characteristics at admission. NHS costs showed a 55% reduction in average total costs with a statistically significant decrease of 81% in annual costs per patient in G2. Hospital costs were found to be significantly higher in G2 with regard to total costs (64% average increase) but not annual costs (7%). No statistical difference was found with regard to expenses from absenteeism.

In conclusion, at the cost of an initial financial constraint to the hospital per year (non-significant), telemonitoring is cost-effective, representing major cost savings to the NHS in the order of 700 euros/patient/year.

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