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ICU – Clinical decision support and telemedicine may save money

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | December 19, 2016
Health IT
From the December 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Previous studies that investigated the cost-effectiveness of tele-ICUs had inconclusive results. That was because different studies reported conflicting results and none of the studies conducted a standard cost-effectiveness analysis with an established criterion that defines “cost-worthy.” “Our study was the first to develop a mathematical simulation model, accounting for the diverse results of past studies examining diverse tele-ICU settings,” says Yoo. “This model enabled us to perform a standard cost-effectiveness study to conclude that the tele-ICU is costworthy in 67 percent of 1,000 hypothetical ICU patients.”

He thinks most hospitals in the U.S. will have a tele-ICU at some point in the future, but that depends on several factors. Reimbursement for tele-ICUs is limited. More hospitals would make the investment if reimbursement was increased. “As models of payment move from volume- based to value-based, hospitals and physicians could realize greater payments or lower expenses if quality is improved, mortality is lowered and ICU stays are shortened,” says Yoo.

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The cost savings vary among hospitals. The study provided a set of benchmarks, including the maximum cost for physician staffing to achieve tele-ICU cost savings, and each hospital can use that to judge if it’s worth the expense. “[Tele-ICUs] are growing rapidly right now,” says Laskaris. “It depends on [the hospital’s] patient mix. If you’re dealing with orthopedic patients and you have a younger population, then it may not be cost-effective. But if you’re dealing with a lot of high-risk patients, then it would be.”

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