Print Friendly  |  
  • LinkedIn
  • Add to Favorites

 Telemedicine Can Cut ED Visits, Hospital Admissions for Individuals with Dementia

Older individuals with dementia have high rates of emergency department (ED) use, and reducing avoidable ED visits while ensuring quality care for these residents is a challenge for senior living communities. According to a new study in the August issue of JAMDA, telemedicine is one possible solution.

In “High Intensity Telemedicine Reduces Emergency Department Use by Older Adults with Dementia in Senior Living Communities,” the authors evaluated the impact of a high-intensity telemedicine program that delivers care for acute illness on ED use rates for senior living community residents with dementia. “High intensity” refers to programs that involve a trained telemedicine facilitator and captures greater clinical detail than simple videoconferencing.

The authors found that individuals with dementia who had access to high-intensity telemedicine had a greater decrease in all ED visits over time than those without access to it. They also determined that residents participating in telemedicine programs also had fewer ED visits that resulted in hospitalization.

Avoiding ED visits is important for people with dementia, the authors suggested, because of the potential negative impact of being exposed to unfamiliar people, excessive noise, and strange surroundings. Subsequent to these visits, individuals with dementia more frequently develop delirium and experience higher rates of hospital admission and mortality than their counterparts without dementia, they said.

“This study confirms the feasibility of high-intensity telemedicine for acute illness for individuals with dementia residing in senior living communities,” the authors concluded. “Our findings are significant as we aim to improve the convenience and quality of care and decrease avoidable costs for patients with dementia who reside in senior living communities.”

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to telemedicine, says Suzanne Gillespie, MD, RD, CMD, the study’s lead author. However, partnerships with insurers or other stakeholders, for example, may make it easier to get these kinds of programs up and running.

“The barriers to using telemedicine are more easily overcome than ever,” she says. Getting started requires access to resources and information about the technology, dialogues with stakeholders (including residents and families), and conversations with home care agencies or other organizations that have experience in using telemedicine effectively.

For a successful telemedicine program, Gillespie says that “it is hugely important to set goals and metrics” and communicate progress on these “with your teams. You need to look at outcomes and issues such as patient/resident satisfaction and determine if the program is meeting your needs and expectations.”

Facebook.png   Twitter   Linked-In   ProviderTV   Subscribe

Sign In