Most telemedicine analyses focus on whether the technology reduces costs and improves outcomes, but few have explored the benefits of telemedicine for individual patients. Researchers at University of California Davis sought to remedy this oversight by looking at transportation costs for patients; they found that the transportation gains are measurable and not insignificant.
The study, published online in Value in Health, examined 18 years of clinical video visit records, both inpatient and outpatient. A typical visit consisted of a patient traveling to the primary care doctor’s office, then jointly consulting with a specialist at UC Davis via interactive video visit. The authors compared the costs of patient travel to the PCP clinic against the costs of travel to UC Davis Health in Sacramento for comparable care.
Altogether, the telemedicine visits saved almost nine years of travel time, $3 million in costs, and five million miles. For one visit, this equates to saving four hours of driving time, $156 in direct travel costs, and 278 miles.
This may not sound like much, but patients in the oft-underserved rural areas face greater transportation challenges than their urban counterparts. Thus, as noted by principal investigator James Marcin, the costs of mileage, gas, and time are real and significant costs to patients.
And, he further explains, since transportation can play a large role in patient care, such improvement is the goal of telemedicine.
To read more about the study, click here.
To learn about how swyMed can help patients reduce their transportation costs, contact us online here.