A new study from University of Missouri has revealed that increased telehealth interaction between patients and health care provider can significantly reduce the need for hospitalisation.
To understand how the use of technology affects patient-provider interactions, Bonnie Wakefield, associate research professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing evaluated the effectiveness of a telehealth home-based intervention in patients with heart failure.
The Patients were selected randomly to receive follow-up by telephone or videophone after hospitalisation for heart failure.
"Telehealth interventions have the potential to allow for earlier detection of key clinical symptoms, triggering early intervention from providers and reducing the need for patient hospitalisation," said Wakefield.
"Reducing the length and frequency of hospital stays can lower healthcare costs for patients and hospitals, which helps patients manage their diseases and ultimately feel better," he added.
Wakefield said it is critical to match technologies to patient needs and further evaluation is needed to determine which patients may benefit most from specific telehealth applications and which technologies are most cost effective.
"Telehealth does not necessarily change the care providers give. Rather, it changes the communication channel between clinicians and patients to minimize geographic barriers and enhance delivery of service," Wakefield said.
"People who suffer from chronic illnesses usually wait three to six months between office appointments with their care providers. With video and telephone technology, nurses have the ability to interact regularly with patients and provide a sense of security.
"Patients discuss concerns on a frequent basis, and nurses give advice and detect problems that the patient might not notice.
"Although older patients may not be accustomed to using technology, it doesn't mean they aren't willing to learn
"Older patients feel they are contributing to society and education by testing innovative technology. They appreciate when health care professionals take time to invest in their well-being," he added.
The study, "Home Telehealth for Heart Failure," will be published in the Journal of Telemedicine and e-Health.