Pilot makes strides for geriatric depression

By Healthcare IT News
09:10 AM

Early findings from a pilot study of telemedicine-based care indicate that the technology could be used to improve geriatric depression, according to a presentation at the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) 29th Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Thomas Sheeran, PhD, ME, a clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, led the study and presented the findings at the NAHC's annual meeting in Dallas on October 3.

The project began at the Cornell Homecare Research Project at Weill Cornell Medical College and was completed at Rhode Island Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Vermont's Telemedicine Program. In addition to the three academic centers, the project partnered with three home health agencies in New York, Vermont and Florida to integrate and pilot evidence-based depression care into existing telehealth programs.

"Using telemedicine in homecare to provide disease management for geriatric depression is timely for several reasons, said Sheeran. "The home care industry is already using telemedicine to provide chronic disease management for many medical illnesses, such as heart disease. However, guideline-based depression care often is not included in these monitoring programs."

"Also, research suggests that telemedicine can be successfully used to address mental health needs of the elderly in community settings," Sheeran said, "Finally, work by the Cornell Homecare Research Partnership and others has shown that community health nurses – who typically are the telehealth disease managers in home care – can identify and successfully provide this service for their elderly home care patients."