Study shows pediatric telemedicine consultations can result in cost savings for rural EDs: 3 findings

Pediatric telemedicine consultations with rural emergency departments are cost-saving or cost-effective compared with telephone consultations, according to a new study published in the journal Medical Decision Making.

For the study, researchers at University of California, Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento reviewed the Pediatric Critical Care Telemedicine Program at UC Davis, tracking its interactions with eight rural emergency departments between 2003 and 2009.  

They collected detailed information on the costs of implementing and maintaining the telemedicine program and compared that to the transfer logs at the eight hospitals, as well as the costs of ED visits, according to the hospital. The team focused on five conditions that can be treated at the rural hospitals with appropriate guidance: asthma, bronchiolitis, dehydration, fever and pneumonia.

Here are three findings from the study:

1. The average cost for a telemedicine consultation at rural EDs was $3,641 per child annually in 2013 dollars.

2. Telemedicine consultations at rural EDs resulted in 31 percent fewer patient transfers compared with telephone consultations and a cost reduction of $4,662 per child annually. 

3. Treating 10 acutely ill and injured children at each rural ED with telemedicine resulted in an annual cost-savings of $46,620 per ED.


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