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Long Distance Caregiving

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Telehealth Moves from the Doctor's Office
to the Home
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Who Pays?

Even though the healthcare industry is evolving with technology, insurers and Medicare are slow to pay for telehealth services. Those organizations that rely on remote monitoring in the patient’s home to give a better picture of how a patient may be recovering or performing on a daily basis are also dependent on government grants and private pay in order to provide those services. There is a compelling benefit for insurers and Medicare to begin providing services through telehealth systems.

A study by the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine revealed that for patients with congestive heart failure, medical costs are approximately $8 billion per year. By using remote monitoring services in the home, those costs are reduced dramatically to $4.2 billion/year – almost half the cost of traditional medical services. The cost of remote monitoring was included in the lower costs, demonstrating that telehealth is a viable benefit to patients and caregivers in terms of reduced medical costs.

The American Telemedicine Association supports Medicare reform to include the costs of remote monitoring in patient care. In its newly released “Federal Policy Recommendations for Home Telehealth and Remote Monitoring,” the organization notes that “home telehealth (including remote monitoring) should be used as a part of a coordinated, comprehensive care program designed to reduce health care costs (through decreased hospitalizations and hospital days of care) and improve clinical outcomes.”

Caregivers can assist patients by helping to research the types of home monitoring systems that are available and those that are affordable to the patient. If insurance is reluctant to pay, there may be more affordable options available. In addition, organizations that provide services to seniors and the disabled are now actively seeking grant funding to provide services like these in the home because they know that healthy individuals are less of a strain on the social service delivery system in the community. Since there is no “one size fits all” system available, individuals need to be aware of what services are needed and how telehealth companies can meet those needs.

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