Telehealth use expected to grow rapidly over two years

By Jeff Marion
12:00 AM

Dutch IT vendor Royal Philips Electronics has released the final results of a national survey on telehealth trends in 1,000 home care agencies in the United States. The survey, conducted by Fazzi Associates and co-sponsored by a home care association, shows that nearly one third of large agencies are currently using a telehealth system.

Results of the Philips National Study on the Future of Technology and Telehealth in Home Care concludes that industry use of telehealth is expected to double over the next two years, principally as a means of managing patients with chronic diseases. London-based research firm Datamonitor in recent months projected that the global market for telehealth would expand at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 56 percent.

The study, representing all major segments of home care including large and small, rural and urban, free-standing and hospital-based, and for profit and not-for-profit, showed 88 percent of agencies reporting a reduction in unplanned hospitalizations and ER visits thanks to telehealth services.

"What makes this study so important is that it is the first representative sample study on technology and telehealth in home care that has ever been undertaken," said Val Halamandaris, president and CEO of NAHC, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. "We now have a much clearer sense of how specific segments of home care are responding to and using these technologies. One finding that is particularly significant is that the utilization of telehealth by home care agencies also correlates directly with providing the highest quality of care."

Robert Fazzi, MD, project co-director, noted the study was designed to address four important aspects of home care technologies: human resources and billing systems, point of care systems, electronic medical records, and telehealth systems.

Much of the study focused on the various types of telehealth systems in use, the components of these systems, and what agency leaders felt were the most significant impacts on various aspects of quality and financial outcomes.

Mike Lemnitzer, senior director for Philips Telehealth Solutions, said, "We believe that home health agencies will be a critical part of the solution to the U.S. healthcare crisis and ensure a continuum of care from the hospital to the home."

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