Changing Aging Blog

A Telemedicine Disconnect
Date: Dec 15th, 2008 11:02am


Eric Schubert

Here’s another example of how traditionally segmented areas of care are merging and technology is the connector. And another reason why we have to change an antiquated way of paying for care.Dan Gunderson of Minnesota Public Radio had an interesting story the other day on telemedicine being used in Wadena, Minn., at Tri-County Hospital. Tri-County Hospital uses telemedicine to provide consultations for residents of the nursing home. It’s a win-win. It allows nursing home staff to talk directly to hospital staff, saves people from having to travel (especially nice on a below-zero day such as today). A study in Maine found an average savings of $580 for each nursing home patient seen with a telemedicine appointment… .… Seems like an obvious way to save costs and improve services to patients, right?There’s a catch … Most nursing homes don’t have the technology and can’t afford it under today’s government reimbursement system. Telemedicine equipment that cost $55,000 a decade ago can now be purchased for $5,000. Too bad we haven’t made the same jump forward in changing how we finance care and integrate services to better serve the patient.

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