Telehealth only reduces costs for certain types of diseases

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that telehealth did not reduce costs or the number of future visits for patients with circulatory, respiratory or infectious diseases.

The researchers based their findings on patient visits from hospital outpatient clinics in Maryland from 2012 to 2021. Telehealth tools were effective at treating behavioral health conditions, metabolic disorders, dermatology and musculoskeletal disorders, according to a July 12 University of Texas at Austin news release.

Overall, the study did find that telehealth reduced outpatient costs by $239 per patient. However, clinicians could not accurately observe heart and lung conditions or deal with infections over video.

"People believed that telehealth would be the next big thing, the future of healthcare," Indranil Bardhan, PhD, a professor of information, risk and operations management, said in the release. "But our research shows that its impact is not as straightforward as people might think. It's more nuanced."

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