AHRQ: Telehealth can improve safety and quality

Recently funded projects by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality found that telehealth can improve patient safety and quality of care, but implementation is not easy. The findings are based on grant recipients serving primarily low-income rural areas with high rates of chronic illness in Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. Several participating providers claimed that integrating telehealth with their electronic health record systems offered many “critical benefits” and helps facilitate the provision of team-based care. However, certain providers experienced technical challenges with telehealth equipment. For example, one provider said several patients became frustrated and stopped using a home monitoring device because it failed to work on a regular basis. In addition, AHRQ called for reimbursement guidelines to help spur widespread acceptance of telehealth as a cost category for reimbursement.

Click here for the AHRQ report. (SOURCE: AHA News Now , http://www.ahanews.com, September 3, 2008)