TeleHomeCare Benefits

TeleHomeCare - or health care providers' use of technology to communicate with patients in their homes - benefits not only patients but also health care providers. The main advantage to both parties is increased communication.
Benefits to the Patient
Benefits to the Home Health Care Provider

Benefits to the Patient

The TeleHomeCare patient gets to stay at home.
Barbara Johnston, research and marketing manager for the Tele-Home Health Program at Kaiser Permanente in North California, says "Patients like being at home. The last place they want to be when they're sick is in the hospital."

The TeleHomeCare patient is empowered to manage his/her health needs.
TeleHomeCare monitoring of patients helps them to remember needs that are specific to them. For example, a patient who must take medication daily can receive a reminder "visit" from his home health provider to reinforce daily routines, such as taking medication. Medical research librarian, Audrey Kinsella, says, "The patients, by undertaking more and informed self management routines, will (it can be hoped) have themselves become part of the 'solution' for financing their home health care." Clinical trials in Pennsylvania show that patients learned to better manage their health. "They bring the log they use to record blood sugars to share during the video visit. Others bring the diabetic education packet given to them on admission. Most patients expressed a desire to have the equipment remain in their home at the time of discharge." Essentially, TeleHomeCare facilitates independent living.

The TeleHomeCare patient receives increased emotional support.
A Telemedicine Today article notes that often, "patients suffering from chronic diseases enter the hospital because they crave the emotional support and company that they may lack at home. Video visits from nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and physicians can provide that support far more cost effectively than hospital admissions can." Virtual visits usually allow face-to-face contact, which enhances the nurse-patient relationship. Clinical trials in Pennsylvania reveal patients look forward to the virtual visits. "In anticipation of being seen on video, most patients prepare for the video visit with more elaborate grooming. Patients style their hair and women apply cosmetics to enhance their video appearance."

The TeleHomeCare patient experiences a decrease in home care costs.
TeleHomeCare patients have experienced a decrease in cost of home care. This has been shown in numerous studies. However, cost also has been an issue that has deterred some providers from embarking on TeleHomeCare, especially since Medicare does not reimburse providers for such services. (See Issues for more on cost and reimbursement of TeleHomeCare.)

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Benefits to the Home Health Care Provider

The home health care provider is more productive through TeleHomeCare than with traditional home visits.
TeleHomeCare allows providers to see more patients in a shorter amount of time. TeleHomeCare visits across the country have averaged 18 minutes; whereas the traditional home visit averages 45 minutes. Nurses literally can perform 15 to 20 "virtual visits" a day. Traditional home visits limit nurses to five visits a day. Essentially, TeleHomeCare reduces the number of trips a home health provider makes and makes those "virtual" visits more productive.

TeleHomeCare allows health care providers to better monitor patients.
Several studies have shown TeleHomeCare tools to assess the health conditions of patients before those conditions became dangerous. Dr. Jay Sanders, Telemedicine Director at the Medical College of Georgia, notes, "Telemedicine home health care could save hospitals money by avoiding admissions and improving outcomes through early intervention." TeleHomeCare allows home health care providers to focus more on prevention, not rescue, a home health nurse maintains. Dr. Khalid Mahmud, a medical oncologist, says TeleHomeCare "will enhance the ability to control the rate of disease progression. This should allow health care workers to fine-tune patient care so that their problems don't accumulate to serious levels between visits to the physician's office. It should reduce emergency visits and hospitalizations, and will become a very powerful instrument in health care."

The TeleHomeCare provider also experiences a decrease in cost of home care.
TeleHomeCare providers have experienced decreases in home care costs. This has been shown in numerous studies and in various pilot projects. "A report from the United States Council of Competitiveness suggests that the daily cost of supporting a patient through home telemedicine is $US30, compared with $US74 for home visits, $US100 for nursing home care, and $US820 for inpatient hospital care." However, cost also has been an issue that has deterred some providers from embarking on TeleHomeCare, especially since Medicare does not reimburse providers for such services. (See Issues for more on cost and reimbursement of TeleHomeCare.)

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Bibliographic references for this page

By Daphne Landers

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