THE IMPACT OF TELEMEDICINE ON PATIENTS' COST SAVINGS: SOME PRELIMINARY FINDINGS
Telemed J E Health. 2003 Winter;9(4):361-7. Bynum AB, Irwin CA, Cranford CO, Denny GS. Rural Hospital Program, and Program Development, Arkansas Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
This study evaluated patients' cost savings in a telehealth project at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' (UAMS) during 1998-2002. Differences in patients' cost savings from telemedicine were assessed by gender, age, ethnicity, education, occupation, annual household income, health insurance status, and household and community size. Variables examined for patients' cost savings included travel distance for medical care, missed days at work, and family expenses. The study population consisted of self-selected telemedicine patients in rural Arkansas (N = 410 consults).
Results suggest that without telemedicine, 94% of patients would travel greater than 70 miles for medical care; 84% would miss one day of work; and 74% would spend $75-$150 for additional family expenses. With telemedicine, 92% of patients saved $32 in fuel costs; 84% saved $100 in wages; and 74% saved $75-$150 in family expenses. Patients living alone (p < 0.001) and in smaller rural communities (p = 0.002) were significantly more likely to miss one day of work without telemedicine than patients with larger households and those residing in larger rural communities. Females (p = 0.040) and patients with a annual household income over $25,000 (p = 0.005) were significantly more likely to have family expenses over $150 without telemedicine than males and patients with a household income of $25,000 or less.