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Recent Research from Vanderbilt and VA Bolsters Argument for Increasing Telehealth Services

Add a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville to the list of credible sources supporting the new trend of telemedicine and telehealth services.

According to industry news source healthcareitnews.com, the data was collected from 23 veterans between May 2014 and June 2014. The patients were seen three times, three different ways for post-operation services following a simple surgery. First via video, second by phone, and finally an in-person visit. Not one post-operation infection or complication was missed during the video and telephone sessions.

The article, entitled “Postoperative Telehealth Visits: Assessment of Quality and Preferences of Veterans,” was published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Surgery journal.

“There is increasing interest in telehealth as a means to improve access to care and decrease costs associated with patients traveling for traditional face-to-face encounters. This is especially important in the Veterans Health Administration patient population,” the report reads. “Our aim was to measure the quality of the visits and the preferences for postoperative general surgical care among veterans with regard to telephone, video, and in-person postoperative visits.”

In that regard the study has to be viewed as an overwhelming success. In addition to these virtual services functioning accurately, 69% of the patients expressed preference for telehealth services at the end of the trial, as opposed to traditional face-to-face meetings. Living far away from the hospital increased those feelings.

This supports previous research that the convenience of telehealth can increase the likelihood of utilizing services. One 18-month study found that appointments using telepsychiatry software were 5% more likely to be kept than face-to-face ones (92 to 87%).

The head author on the project, Michael Vella, MD, at Vanderbilt Medical Center, spoke to Reuters about the potential these new services can have in the future.

“These kinds of methods are really important in the climate we’re in now,” Vella said. “So I think anything you can do to save money, see more patients and improve access to care is really important.”