VA: Technology helps monitor patients remotely

Study says telehealth technology is successful in reducing hospital stays.

Technology provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs used to remotely monitor the health of patients with chronic conditions is successful at reducing hospitals stays, according to a VA-sponsored study.

The study examined the VA’s teleheath technology that lets health providers collect data about patients from their homes. Telehealth tools help montior things like blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Members of the VA national telehealth staff conducted the study. The study is available in the current issue of the journal Telemedicine and e-Health, a peer-reviewed publication. VA officials announced the findings today. The study looked at health outcomes from 17,025 VA home telehealth patients.

“The study showed that home telehealth makes health care more effective because it improves patients’ access to care and is easy to use,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “Patients in rural areas are increasingly finding that telehealth improves their access to health care and promotes their ongoing relationship with our health care system.”

The study found a 25 percent reduction in the average number of days hospitalized and a 19 percent reduction in hospitalizations for patients using home telehealth.

VA’s home telehealth program cares for 35,000 patients, VA officials said.

The key to the program’s success is VA’s computerized patient record system, said Dr. Michael J. Kussman the VA’s Under Secretary for Health.

Telehealth is not designed to replace traditional or nursing home care, VA officials said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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