Study Shows Savings From Telemedicine Cardiology Consults

Study after study has outlined the benefits of telemedicine and remote monitoring, particularly when it comes to time saved and patient satisfaction. Now, a newly released study is shedding additional light on the cost savings—arguably still the least developed area of telemedicine research—that can result from the use of remote cardiology consults. As mHealth Intelligence first reported, a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care identified an average of nearly $500 in cost savings per patient when primary care providers used the eConsult platform to consult with cardiologists about their Medicaid patients’ cardiac cases. “The important findings from this research are that a relatively simple intervention, the use of eConsults to communicate with cardiologists, can improve access to care and reduce the need for face to face consults, all while saving the system money—a win-win for patients and payers,” Dr. Daren Anderson, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “The $466 saved per cardiology eConsult demonstrates the economic benefit, while patients who commonly endure long waits for specialists receive timely, high quality care.”

Anderson and his colleagues, in a randomized trial, compared Medicaid patients who had face-to-face cardiac visits with those whose primary care providers utilized the eConsult platform to connect with cardiologists. They found significant cost savings among the eConsult group. The researchers note that their study is the first of its kind, and sheds new light on the platform’s additional benefits. “Previous studies have demonstrated that eConsults improve access by reducing referral waiting times, but until now, the economic impact of giving practicing PCPs access to a secure, efficient eConsult platform to enhance their interactions with specialists was unknown,” they explain.

For the Medicaid population, the world of specialty care can be a challenging one to navigate; they often face long waits for appointments, with a limited pool of providers willing to treat them. Developed in Connecticut at the state’s Community Health Center, eConsult allows primary care physicians to easily communicate online with specialists about the necessity of patient referrals. It’s now in use with Medicaid providers in nine states; notably, providers can also receive reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As we’ve reported before, researchers have found the platform to be an effective way to increase Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to specialty care. At a conference last year, the platform’s developers told attendees that the program “is reducing unnecessary spending, improving care coordination for the hard-to-reach Medicaid population, and making primary care doctors more confident in their abilities.”

Click here to read the mHealth Intelligence article on the use of the eConsult platform for cardiology. 

Click here to read the American Journal of Managed Care article on the use of the eConsult platform for cardiology.

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