Johnson, Daniela., and Joyce Ph.D. RN Conley
Currently in the United States chronic conditions are the leading causes of illness, disability and death. Patients with chronic illness are the heaviest users of healthcare resources which will end up costing $1,070,000,000 by 2020. Hospital readmission rates are directly linked to this cost and are the result of poor management of the chronic conditions. There is an opportunity for significant savings if patients can be maintained in their homes through the use of telehealth. This literature review will address the following question: In chronically ill patients, what is the effect of telehealth on hospital readmission rates compared with no telehealth intervention?
A thorough review of the literature was conducted by searching the following databases PUBMED, EBSCO, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Cochrane. Search terms included: telehealth, telemedicine, chronic illness, readmission rate, randomized controlled trial. The search focused on studies that were quantitative randomized controlled trials published within the last five years. Studies had to show a comparison of hospital readmission rates between adults with chronic illness that used telehealth and adults with chronic illness that received traditional care. Six studies were chosen. Two studies were found to be improperly randomized. Only one of the studies presented a detailed cost of the Telehealth program and the cost saved by the reduction in readmissions.
Overall the literature reviewed found that telehealth reduced readmission rates when compared with the groups that received traditional care. Though Telehealth has consistently been shown to improve quality of life and reduce readmissions, the question remains whether the cost-savings will justify the cost of implementing and maintaining such a system on a larger scale.