ICU Telemedicine: Do Costs Outweigh Benefits?

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A recent article in CHEST Journal found that hospitals are spending substantial amounts of money on telemedicine programs within intensive care units, but the impacts versus the costs are unclear.

Researchers reviewed studies and cost reports published between January 1990 and July 2011 on the reporting costs of ICU telemedicine programs. They also collected data on the costs of implementing ICU telemedicine in a network of Veterans Health Administration hospitals.

They found that hospitals were spending roughly $50,000 to $100,000 per monitored ICU bed in the first year of their ICU telemedicine program. However, researchers were not able to determine if these investments benefited a long-term strategy of improved patient outcomes and saving money.

"Until additional data become available, clinicians and administrators should carefully weigh the clinical and economic aspects of [ICU telemedicine] programs when considering investment in this technology," according to the study.

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