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Long-term effect of home telehealth services on preventable hospitalization use

Huanguang Jia, PhD, MPH, et al.

Figure. Comparison of number of preventable hospitalization occurrences between treatment and control groups by time (mean plus/minus 1.96 standard error).

A large body of literature has found that hospitalizations for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions (ACSCs) would be prevented if timely and appropriate ambulatory care were accessible to patients. Home telehealth can be one mechanism to improve patients' accessibility. Several reports showed that telehealth programs had a short-term effect on inpatient and outpatient utilization reduction; however, little is understood about the long-term effect of telehealth programs on hospitalization for ACSCs. In this study, we assessed the longitudinal effect (all patients were followed for 4 years) of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patient-centered Care Coordination Home Telehealth (CCHT) program on preventable hospitalization use by veterans with diabetes mellitus at four VA medical centers. We found that CCHT enrollees were less likely than their nonenrollee counterparts to be admitted for a preventable hospitalization during the initial 18 months of follow-up, and this difference diminished during the rest of the 4-year period. These findings are some of the first that have systematically examined the extent to which home telehealth programs have a long-term effect on preventable hospitalization use.

Volume 46 Number 5, 2009
   Pages 557 — 566

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